Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Astoria Waterfront Bridge Replacement Project, 7680-7699 [2018-03615]

Download as PDF 7680 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES (G) Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident; (H) Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved; (I) Fate of the animal(s); and (J) Photographs or video footage of the animal(s). Activities shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS will work with Statoil to determine what measures are necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. Statoil may not resume their activities until notified by NMFS. (ii) In the event that Statoil discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (e.g., in less than a moderate state of decomposition), Statoil shall immediately report the incident to NMFS. The report must include the same information identified in condition 6(b)(i) of this IHA. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with Statoil to determine whether additional mitigation measures or modifications to the activities are appropriate. (iii) In the event that Statoil discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the specified activities (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), Statoil shall report the incident to NMFS within 24 hours of the discovery. Statoil shall provide photographs or video footage or other documentation of the sighting to NMFS. 7. This Authorization may be modified, suspended or withdrawn if the holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein, or if NMFS determines the authorized taking is having more than a negligible impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammals. Request for Public Comments We request comment on our analyses, the draft authorization, and any other aspect of this Notice of Proposed IHA for the proposed marine site characterization surveys. Please include with your comments any supporting data or literature citations to help inform our final decision on the request for MMPA authorization. On a case-by-case basis, NMFS may issue a one-year renewal IHA without additional notice when (1) another year VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 of identical or nearly identical activities as described in the Specified Activities section is planned, or (2) the activities would not be completed by the time the IHA expires and renewal would allow completion of the activities beyond that described in the Dates and Duration section, provided all of the following conditions are met: • A request for renewal is received no later than 60 days prior to expiration of the current IHA. • The request for renewal must include the following: (1) An explanation that the activities to be conducted beyond the initial dates either are identical to the previously analyzed activities or include changes so minor (e.g., reduction in pile size) that the changes do not affect the previous analyses, take estimates, or mitigation and monitoring requirements. (2) A preliminary monitoring report showing the results of the required monitoring to date and an explanation showing that the monitoring results do not indicate impacts of a scale or nature not previously analyzed or authorized. • Upon review of the request for renewal, the status of the affected species or stocks, and any other pertinent information, NMFS determines that there are no more than minor changes in the activities, the mitigation and monitoring measures remain the same and appropriate, and the original findings remain valid. Dated: February 16, 2018. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2018–03611 Filed 2–21–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XF882 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Astoria Waterfront Bridge Replacement Project National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS has received a request from the City of Astoria for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to pile driving and SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 construction work during the Waterfront Bridge Replacement Project in Astoria, Oregon. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to incidentally take marine mammals during the specified activities. Comments and information must be received no later than March 26, 2018. DATES: Comments should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should be sent to 1315 EastWest Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and electronic comments should be sent to ITP.Fowler@noaa.gov. Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. Comments received electronically, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25megabyte file size. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel or Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ national/marine-mammal-protection/ incidental-take-authorizationsconstruction-activities without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. ADDRESSES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amy Fowler, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. Electronic copies of the application and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, may be obtained online at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/ marine-mammal-protection/incidentaltake-authorizations-constructionactivities. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (as delegated to NMFS) to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review. An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as ‘‘. . . an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.’’ The MMPA states that the term ‘‘take’’ means to harass, hunt, capture, kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal. Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (Level B harassment). National Environmental Policy Act To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216–6A, NMFS must review our proposed action (i.e., the issuance of an incidental harassment authorization) with respect to potential impacts on the human environment. This action is consistent with categories of activities identified in CE B4 of the Companion Manual for NOAA Administrative Order 216–6A, which do not individually or cumulatively have the potential for significant impacts on the quality of the human environment and for which we have not identified any extraordinary circumstances that would preclude this categorical exclusion. Accordingly, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the issuance of the proposed IHA qualifies VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 7681 On October 17, 2017, NMFS received a request from the City of Astoria (City) for an IHA to take marine mammals incidental to replacement of bridges in downtown Astoria along the Columbia River. The application was considered adequate and complete on January 17, 2018. The City’s request is for take of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus), and harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardii) by Level B harassment only. Neither the City nor NMFS expect mortality to result from this activity and, therefore, an IHA is appropriate. the entire IWWP, or 80 work days. Vibratory timber pile removal is expected to take approximately 26 days and impact hammer pile installation will take approximately 42 days. The remaining 12 days in the IWWP will be used to remove all concrete footings and a concrete retaining wall. The contractor will likely remove existing structures concurrent with construction of new foundations. Pile removal and installation will occur over an eight hour period each day. Additional above-water construction may be completed between March 2019 and August 2019. Rail superstructure construction is expected to occur over 13 work days between March 1 and April 11. Construction of approach superstructure and roadway improvements will be conducted between April and August 2019. An offsite storm water facility will be constructed during the summer of 2019. Description of Proposed Activity Specific Geographic Region Overview The project site is located in the Baker Bay-Columbia River subwatershed. This section of the Columbia River represents the most saline portion of the river’s estuarine environment. Tidal influence extends 146 miles upriver to the Bonneville Dam. The Columbia River is over nine miles wide in the area around Astoria and contains multiple islands, buoys, and sandbars that marine mammals utilize to haul out. The upland portions of the region of activity have been highly altered by human activities, with substantial shoreline development and remnants of historical development. This includes thousands of timber piles, overwater buildings, a railroad trestle, and vehicular bridges. The downtown Astoria waterfront is a busy area for pedestrians, vehicles, and boats. In addition to onshore development, the Lower Columbia River is utilized by various types of vessels, including cargo ships, dredging vessels, fishing vessels, trawlers, pollution control vessels, and search and rescue vessels, among others. The remainder of the region of activity is located within the river channel within the intertidal and subtidal zones. The substrate in this area is primarily made up of historical rip rap and other rocks/cobbles. All inwater construction will occur in the intertidal and subtidal zones. Some piles may be removed and installed completely in the dry while others may remain inundated in water over 75 percent of the time. Section 1 of the application describes the tidal conditions of each crossing in detail. to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review. We will review all comments submitted in response to this notice prior to concluding our NEPA process or making a final decision on the IHA request. Summary of Request The City is seeking an IHA for the first year of a two-year project to remove and replace piles supporting six waterfront bridges in Astoria, Oregon. Phase I of the project, which would occur under this IHA, involves the removal and replacement of three bridges connecting 7th, 9th, and 11th Streets to waterfront piers. The bridges are currently supported by decayed timber piles and concrete footings that will be removed and replaced with steel piles. Roadway construction, timber pile removal, and steel pile driving are expected to result in Level B auditory harassment of California sea lions, harbor seals, and Steller sea lions. The proposed project would occur along the Lower Columbia River. The action area is not expected to exceed 1,600 meters (m) beyond each bridge site. Construction for Phase I of the project, removing and replacing the 7th, 9th, and 11th Street bridge crossings, is expected to occur between October 2018 and April 2019. Dates and Duration Project work is expected to begin in October 2018 with roadway and rail superstructure removal. Timber pile removal and steel pile installation will occur within the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) prescribed in-water work period (IWWP) for the Lower Columbia River (November 1 through February 28). Timber pile and concrete foundation removal will be initiated at the onset of the IWWP. These activities will likely occur over PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 7682 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices Detailed Description of Specific Activity Phase I of the project involves the removal and replacement of three bridges connecting 7th, 9th, and 11th Streets to waterfront piers. Each bridge has pedestrian and vehicle access. A railroad trestle runs parallel to the shoreline between the bridges along the waterfront. Demolition of the existing bridge crossings will require the removal of bridge decks and other aboveground components for the rail trestle and roadway approaches. Demolition of the superstructures will likely be accomplished using standard roadway and bridge construction equipment. The existing bridge crossings are primarily founded on a timber substructure. All timber elements supporting the roadway approach and trestle crossing will be removed. Most of the structures are below the Mean High Water (MHW) elevation; the remaining timber elements are below the Mean Higher-High Water (MHHW) or the Highest Measured Tide (HMT) elevation, with only a few piles being removed landward of the HMT elevation. Each bridge contains 85 timber structures to be removed. Most timber piles are 12 inches (in) diameter but some may be up to 14 in. The contractor will use a vibratory hammer or direct pull to remove the timber piles. In addition to timber structures, each bridge is supported by concrete footings ranging in size from 16 in by 16 in to 12 feet (ft) by 3 ft. Seven concrete structures will be removed from the 7th Street crossing, four from the 9th Street crossing, and eight from the 11th Street crossing (Table 1). A concrete retaining wall at the 9th Street crossing will also be removed to facilitate construction of the new roadway approach. The wall is located below the HMT elevation and is frequently exposed to surface flows. The contractor will use a concrete saw to cut the retaining wall into manageable pieces. Abutment wingwalls will be constructed at the 9th Street crossing to help contain the roadway approach fill. The wingwalls will be cast-in-place concrete retaining walls. The eastern retaining wall will be located above the HMT and the western wall will be above the MHHW. As a result, the work will be completed in the dry; however, the contractor will install measures when necessary to isolate the work area. Most of the piles to be installed are within 40 ft of the existing abutments, so the piles will be installed from a crane staged on the south side of the bridges. However, piling at the 9th Street crossing is up to 60 ft from the south abutment. The size and length of the piling as well as the weight of the pile hammer and leads places additional demand on the supporting crane. As a result, the contractor will construct temporary shoring consisting of two bents comprised of five 16-in piles each for a total of ten piles. Both bents will be located within two ft of the MLW elevation. Therefore, all piles are likely to be inundated by water levels greater than 2 ft deep at least 75 percent of the time during installation and extraction. Construction of the work platform will be initiated following removal of the superstructures, retaining wall, and approach fill at the 9th Street crossing. Due to the soft soils, it is anticipated that each pile installed will advance predominately under its own weight with a limited number of impact hammer strikes prior to reaching the bedrock surface. To finish pile installation, the contractor will be required to use an impact hammer to secure the piles into the bedrock and verify the required bearing resistances. All temporary pilings will be installed and removed during the ODFW prescribed IWWP and will remain in place for only one construction season. A total of 74 24-in diameter permanent steel piles are expected to be driven for Phase I of this project (21 at the 7th Street crossing, 25 at the 9th Street crossing, and 28 at the 11th Street crossing, Table 1). As with the temporary shoring, it is expected that the permanent piles will advance under their own weight with a limited number of hammer strikes before reaching the bedrock surface. TABLE 1—STRUCTURES TO BE REMOVED AND INSTALLED Timber piles to be removed Concrete footings to be removed 7th Street ..................................................................................................................................... 9th Street ..................................................................................................................................... 11th Street ................................................................................................................................... Temporary shoring (9th St. only) ................................................................................................. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES Structure 85 85 85 ........................ 7 4 8 ........................ The IWWP prescribed by ODFW includes 80 work days. Construction work is assumed to occur over an eight hour period each day. It is assumed that the contractor will drive the first 40 ft of piling for each pile location (each pile location consists of two 40-foot pile sections) over the first few days of pile driving, then splice on the additional 40 ft of piling at each location over the next few days. After the first 40-ft pile section is driven, a backer bar is tack welded on to the first pile section, then the second pile section is aligned with a crane, and welded on. Once all of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 piles are spliced, the contractor will resume pile driving activities to set each pile to the desired depth. It is estimated that the contractor can install four 40foot piles a day at an estimated 250 strikes per pile. With a total of 84 piles to be driven (74 permanent and 10 temporary), given the rate of four 40-ft piles per day, impact pile driving will take 42 days with a total of 1000 strikes per day (Table 2). This would leave 38 work days for the removal of existing timber piling and concrete substructures. The contractor will attempt to extract the existing piles via PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Steel piles to be installed 21 25 28 10 direct pull or vibratory hammer. Vibratory removal of timber piles will take approximately 30 minutes per pile. A total of 255 timber piles are anticipated to be extracted. At an average of 10 piles removed per day, existing timber pile removal is expected to take 26 days (Table 2) which leaves 12 days remaining in the work period to cover the removal of all concrete footings and the 9th Street retaining wall. It is anticipated that the contractor will be removing existing substructure elements concurrent with the construction of the new foundations. E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 7683 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices TABLE 2—PILE DRIVING ESTIMATES PER DAY Number Timber Piles to be Removed ............ 24″ Steel Piles to be Installed .......... 16″ Steel Piles to be Installed .......... Method 255 74 10 Vibratory Hammer and Direct Pull ... Impact Hammer ................................ Impact Hammer ................................ Number of strikes per day Number of days 1 Piles per day 10 4 4 26 37 5 N/A 1000 1000 1 It is assumed that the contractor will drive the first 40 ft of piling on one day, then splice on the additional 40 ft of piling and resume pile driving on another day, totaling two days required to drive all 80 ft of pile, hence double the amount of days than piles. The construction activities that could potentially result in acoustic and visual disturbance to pinnipeds within the action area include rail and roadway superstructure and concrete foundation removal activities, temporary work platform construction, piling installation, wingwall construction, and construction of the new rail and roadway superstructures. Most of these activities will require work in water during the IWWP (November 1 through February 28). Sound from pile removal and installation will likely extend out into the river channel where California sea lions, Steller sea lions, and harbor seals may be transiting. Work occurring in-air includes the removal of bridge decks and other aboveground components for the rail trestle crossings and roadway approaches as well as construction of the new rail superstructures and roadway improvements, which occurs directly above the river banks where hauled out California sea lions may be located. California sea lions may be harassed by the presence of construction equipment during above-water construction. Proposed mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures are described in detail later in this document (please see ‘‘Proposed Mitigation’’ and ‘‘Proposed Monitoring and Reporting’’). Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities Sections 3 and 4 of the application summarize available information regarding status and trends, distribution and habitat preferences, and behavior and life history, of the potentially affected species. Additional information regarding population trends and threats may be found in NMFS’s Stock Assessment Reports (SAR; https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/ population-assessments/marinemammals) and more general information about these species (e.g., physical and behavioral descriptions) may be found on NMFS’s website (https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/findspecies). Table 3 lists all species with expected potential for occurrence in Astoria and summarizes information related to the population or stock, including regulatory status under the MMPA and ESA and potential biological removal (PBR), where known. For taxonomy, we follow Committee on Taxonomy (2016). PBR is defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population (as described in NMFS’s SARs). While no mortality is anticipated or authorized here, PBR and annual serious injury and mortality from anthropogenic sources are included here as gross indicators of the status of the species and other threats. Marine mammal abundance estimates presented in this document represent the total number of individuals that make up a given stock or the total number estimated within a particular study or survey area. NMFS’s stock abundance estimates for most species represent the total estimate of individuals within the geographic area, if known, that comprises that stock. For some species, this geographic area may extend beyond U.S. waters. All managed stocks in this region are assessed in NMFS’s U.S. 2016 SARs (e.g., Caretta et al. 2017). All values presented in Table 3 are the most recent available at the time of publication and are available in the 2016 SARs (Caretta et al. 2017, Muto et al., 2017). TABLE 3—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE VICINITY OF ASTORIA Common name Scientific name ESA/MMPA status; strategic (Y/N) 1 Stock Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2 PBR Annual M/SI 3 Relative occurrence near Astoria Order Carnivora—Superfamily Pinnipedia Family Otariidae (eared seals and sea lions) California sea lion ... Steller sea lion ........ Zalophus californianus. Eumetopias jubatus U.S .......................... -; N Eastern U.S ............ 296,750 (N/A, 153,337, 2011). 41,638 (N/A, 41,638, 2015). -; N 9,200 389 Likely. 2,498 108 Likely. undet. 10.6 Likely. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES Family Phocidae (earless seals) Pacific harbor seal .. Phoca vitulina richardii. Oregon/Washington Coast. -; N Unknown (0.12, 24,732, 1999). 1 Endangered Species Act (ESA) status: Endangered (E), Threatened (T)/MMPA status: Depleted (D). A dash (-) indicates that the species is not listed under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. Under the MMPA, a strategic stock is one for which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds PBR or which is determined to be declining and likely to be listed under the ESA within the foreseeable future. Any species or stock listed under the ESA is automatically designated under the MMPA as depleted and as a strategic stock. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 7684 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices 2 NMFS marine mammal stock assessment reports online at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/. CV is coefficient of variation; N min is the minimum estimate of stock abundance. In some cases, CV is not applicable. For certain stocks, abundance estimates are actual counts of animals and there is no associated CV. 3 These values, found in NMFS’s SARs, represent annual levels of human-caused mortality plus serious injury from all sources combined (e.g., commercial fisheries, ship strike). Annual M/SI often cannot be determined precisely and is in some cases presented as a minimum value or range. A CV associated with estimated mortality due to commercial fisheries is presented in some cases. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES All species that could potentially occur in the proposed survey areas are included in Table 3. As described below, all three species temporally and spatially co-occur with the activity to the degree that take is reasonably likely to occur, and we have proposed authorizing it. California Sea Lion California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are distributed along the North Pacific waters from central Mexico to southeast Alaska, with breeding areas restricted primarily to island areas off southern California (the Channel Islands), Baja California, and in the Gulf of California (Wright et al., 2010). California sea lions are dark brown with broad fore flippers and a long, narrow snout. There are five genetically distinct geographic populations. The population seen in Oregon is the Pacific Temperate stock, which are commonly seen in Oregon from September through May (ODFW 2015). The approximate growth rate for this species is 5.4 percent annually (Caretta et al., 2004). Threats to this species include incidental catch and entanglement in fishing gear, such as gillnets; biotoxins, as a result of harmful algal blooms; and gunshot wounds and other human-caused injuries, as California sea lions are sometimes viewed as a nuisance by commercial fishermen (NOAA 2016). Almost all California sea lions in the Pacific Northwest are sub-adult or adult males (NOAA 2008). California sea lions feed in both the Columbia River and adjacent nearshore marine areas. Their population is lowest in Oregon in the summer months, from May to September, as they migrate south to the Channel Islands in California to breed. California sea lions have been observed near several crossings within the Project site; however, this is not their main haul out. Their main haul out is the East Mooring Basin, which is located over one mile upstream, outside of the Region of Activity. Construction activities are proposed between October and April, which includes the tail end of peak usage of the lower river by California sea lions. Counts of California sea lions are highest in September but taper off until March when the sea lions travel south past Oregon toward their breeding sites (Brown et al., 2015). Recent years have shown an increase in VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 the record numbers of California sea lions at the East Mooring Basin with a 2015 spring record of 2,340 individuals (up from 1,420 in 2014), though in past years, typical spring counts were closer to 100–300 individuals (Profita 2015). Changes in climate, food sources, and a growing population approaching 300,000 are all cited as possible reasons for these increases. Counts of California sea lions at the South Jetty haulout at the mouth of the Columbia River (10 miles downstream of project site) date back to 1995 (ODFW 2007) but more reliable monthly counts from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) are available from 2000–2014 (WDFW 2014). Harbor Seal The Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii) is the most widespread and abundant resident pinniped in Oregon. They are generally blue-gray with light and dark speckling; they lack external ear flaps and have short forelimbs. Harbor seals are generally non-migratory and occur on both the U.S. east and west coasts. On the west coast they range from Alaska to Baja California, Mexico (ODFW 2015). The Oregon/Washington Coast stock abundance was estimated in 1999 to be 24,732. However, the data used to establish that abundance was eight years old at the time and no more recent stock abundance estimates exist (Caretta et al., 2017). The 1999 abundance estimate will be used for the purposes of this analysis. The Oregon/Washington Coast stock of Pacific harbor seals is not listed under the ESA nor are they considered depleted or strategic under the MMPA. Harbor seals utilize specific shoreline locations on a regular basis as haulouts including beaches, rocks, floats, and buoys. They must rest at haulout locations to regulate body temperature, interact with one another, and sleep (NOAA 2016). Harbor seals are present throughout the year at the mouth of the Columbia River and adjacent nearshore marine areas. Harbor seals are an infrequent visitor at the Astoria Mooring Basin, but they are known to transit through the Region of Activity. Their closest haulout and pupping area is Desdemona Sands which is downstream of the Astoria-Megler Bridge and outside the Region of Activity. Pupping occurs from Mid-April to July, outside of the proposed project work period (Susan PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Riemer, pers. comm., 2016). Due to their year-round occurrence in the Columbia River, harbor seals are likely to be found transiting the area during in-water construction. Steller Sea Lion The Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) range extends along the Pacific Rim, from northern Japan to central California. For management purposes, Steller sea lions inhabiting U.S. waters have been divided into two DPS: The Western U.S. and the Eastern U.S. The population known to occur within the Lower Columbia River is the Eastern DPS. The Western U.S. stock of Steller sea lions are listed as endangered under the ESA and depleted and strategic under the MMPA. The Eastern U.S. stock (including those living in Oregon) was de-listed in 2013 following a population growth from 18,000 in 1979 to 70,000 in 2010 (an estimated annual growth of 4.18 percent) (NOAA 2013). The current abundance estimate for the Eastern U.S. stock is 41,638 (Muto et al., 2017). Threats to Steller sea lions include: Boat/ship strikes, contaminants/pollutants, habitat degradation, illegal hunting/shooting, offshore oil and gas exploration, and interactions (direct and indirect) with fisheries (NOAA 2016). Critical habitat was designated for Steller sea lions on August 27, 1993 (58 FR 45269), but is not present within the Region of Activity. Critical habitat is associated with specific breeding and haulout sites in Alaska, California, and Oregon (NOAA 2016). Steller sea lions are present yearround at the mouth of the Columbia River, with the primary haulout point on the top South Jetty (approximately 10 miles downstream of the action area) and they are at their peak in the lower river from September through March. The South Jetty haulout is the only artificial structure Steller sea lions regularly use along the Oregon coast. Steller sea lions feed in both the Columbia River and adjacent nearshore marine areas. Due to their year-round presence and peak of presence during the winter months, Steller sea lions are likely to be transiting the area during inwater construction activities. E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 7685 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat This section includes a summary and discussion of the ways that components of the specified activity may impact marine mammals and their habitat. The Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment section later in this document includes a quantitative analysis of the number of individuals that are expected to be taken by this activity. The Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination section considers the content of this section, the Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment section, and the Proposed Mitigation section, to draw conclusions regarding the likely impacts of these activities on the reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and how those impacts on individuals are likely to impact marine mammal species or stocks. Description of Sound Sources Sound travels in waves, the basic components of which are frequency, wavelength, velocity, and amplitude. Frequency is the number of pressure waves that pass by a reference point per unit of time and is measured in hertz (Hz) or cycles per second. Wavelength is the distance between two peaks of a sound wave; lower frequency sounds have longer wavelengths than higher frequency sounds. Amplitude is the height of the sound pressure wave or the ‘loudness’ of a sound and is typically measured using the decibel (dB) scale. A dB is the ratio between a measured pressure (with sound) and a reference pressure (sound at a constant pressure, established by scientific standards). It is a logarithmic unit that accounts for large variations in amplitude; therefore, relatively small changes in dB ratings correspond to large changes in sound pressure. When referring to sound pressure levels (SPLs; the sound force per unit area), sound is referenced in the context of underwater sound pressure to 1 microPascal (mPa). One Pascal is the pressure resulting from a force of one Newton exerted over an area of one square meter. The source level (SL) represents the sound level at a distance of 1 m from the source (referenced to 1 mPa). The received level is the sound level at the listener’s position. Note that all underwater sound levels in the document are referenced to a pressure of 1 mPa and all airborne sound levels in this document are referenced to a pressure of 20 mPa. Root mean square (rms) is the quadratic mean sound pressure over the duration of an impulse. Rms is calculated by squaring all of the sound amplitudes, averaging the squares, and then taking the square root of the average (Urick 1983). Rms accounts for both positive and negative values; squaring the pressures makes all values positive so that they may be accounted for in the summation of pressure levels (Hastings and Popper, 2005). This measurement is often used in the context of discussing behavioral effects, in part because behavioral effects, which often result from auditory cues, may be better expressed through averaged units than by peak pressures. When underwater objects vibrate or activity occurs, sound-pressure waves are created. These waves alternately compress and decompress the water as the sound wave travels. Underwater sound waves radiate in all directions away from the source (similar to ripples on the surface of a pond), except in cases where the source is directional. The compressions and decompressions associated with sound waves are detected as changes in pressure by aquatic life and man-made sound receptors such as hydrophones. Even in the absence of sound from the specified activity, the underwater environment is typically loud due to ambient sound. Ambient sound is defined as environmental background sound levels lacking a single source or point (Richardson et al., 1995), and the sound level of a region is defined by the total acoustical energy being generated by known and unknown sources. These sources may include physical (e.g., waves, earthquakes, ice, atmospheric sound), biological (e.g., sounds produced by marine mammals, fish, and invertebrates), and anthropogenic sound (e.g., vessels, dredging, aircraft, construction). A number of sources contributed to ambient sound, including the following (Richardson et al., 1995): • Wind and waves: The complex interactions between wind and water surface, including processes such as breaking waves and wave-induced bubble oscillations and cavitation, are a main source of naturally occurring ambient noise for frequencies between 200 Hz and 50 kilohertz (kHz) (Mitson, 1995). In general, ambient sound levels tend to increase with increasing wind speed and wave height. Surf noise becomes important near shore, with measurements collected at a distance of 8.5 km from shore showing an increase of 10 dB in the 100 to 700 Hz band during heavy surf conditions. • Precipitation: Sound from rain and hail impacting the water surface can become an important component of total noise frequencies above 500 Hz, and possibly down to 100 Hz during quiet times. • Biological: Marine mammals can contribute significantly to ambient noise levels, as can some fish and shrimp. The frequency band for biological contributions is from approximately 12 Hz to over 100 kHz. • Anthropogenic: Sources of ambient noise related to human activity include transportation (surface vessels and aircraft), dredging and construction, oil and gas drilling and production, seismic surveys, sonar, explosions, and ocean acoustic studies. Shipping noise typically dominates the total ambient noise for frequencies between 20 and 300 Hz. In general, the frequencies of anthropogenic sounds are below 1 kHz and, if higher frequency sound levels are created, they attenuate rapidly (Richardson et al., 1995). Sound from identifiable anthropogenic sources other than the activity of interest (e.g., a passing vessel) is sometimes termed background sound, as opposed to ambient sound. Representative levels of anthropogenic sound are displayed in Table 4. TABLE 4—REPRESENTATIVE SOUND LEVELS OF ANTHROPOGENIC SOURCES daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES Sound source Underwater sound level Vibratory removal of 12-in timber pile ..................................................... Impact driving of 24-in steel pipe pile ..................................................... Concrete saw .......................................................................................... 150 dB rms at 16 m ...................... 184 dB rms at 10 m ...................... 93 dB rms at 20 m1 ....................... 1 Airborne Reference Laughlin 2011a. WSDOT 2016; Reyff 2007. Hanan and Associates 2014. sound only (dB rms re 20 μPa). The sum of the various natural and anthropogenic sound sources at any given location and time—which VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 comprise ‘‘ambient’’ or ‘‘background’’ sound—depends not only on the source levels (as determined by current PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 weather conditions and levels of biological and shipping activity) but also on the ability of sound to propagate E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 7686 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices through the environment. In turn, sound propagation is dependent on the spatially and temporally varying properties of the water column and sea floor, and is frequency-dependent. As a result of the dependence on a large number of varying factors, ambient sound levels can be expected to vary widely over both coarse and fine spatial and temporal scales. Sound levels at a given frequency and location can vary by 10–20 dB from day to day (Richardson et al., 1995). The result is that, depending on the source type and its intensity, sound from the specified activity may be a negligible addition to the local environment or could form a distinctive signal that may affect marine mammals. In-water construction activities associated with the Project include impact pile driving and vibratory pile removal. The sounds produced by these activities fall into one of two general sound types: pulsed and non-pulsed (defined in the following). The distinction between these two sound types is important because they have differing potential to cause physical effects, particularly with regard to hearing (e.g., Ward 1997 in Southall et al., 2007). Please see Southall et al., (2007) for an in-depth discussion of these concepts. Pulsed sound sources (e.g., impact pile driving) product signals that are brief (typically considered to be less than one second), broadband, atonal transients (ANSI 1986; Harris 1998; NIOSH 1998; ISO 2003; ANSI 2005) and occur either as isolated events or repeated in some succession. Pulsed sounds are all characterized by a relatively rapid rise from ambient pressure to a maximal pressure value followed by a rapid decay period that may include a period of diminishing, oscillating maximal and minimal pressures, and generally have an increased capacity to induce physical injury as compared with sounds that lack these features. Non-pulsed sounds can be tonal, narrowband or broadband, brief or prolonged, and may be wither continuous or non-continuous (ANSI 1995; NIOSH 1998). Some of these nonpulsed sounds can be transient signals of short duration without the essential properties of pulses (e.g., rapid rise time). Examples of non-pulsed sounds include those produced by vessels, aircraft, machinery operations such as drilling or dredging, vibratory pile driving, and active sonar systems (such as those used by the U.S. Navy). The duration of such sounds, as received at a distance, can be greatly extended in a highly reverberant environment. Impact hammers operate by repeatedly dropping a heavy piston onto a pile to drive the pile into the substrate. Sound generated by impact hammers is characterized by rapid rise times and high peak levels, a potentially injurious combination (Hastings and Popper 2005). Vibratory hammers install piles by vibrating them and allowing the weight of the hammer to push them into the sediment. Vibratory hammers produce significantly less sound than impact hammers. Peak SPLs may be 180 dB or greater, but are generally 10 to 20 dB lower than SPLs generated during impact pile driving of the same-sized pile (Oestman et al., 2005). Marine Mammal Hearing Hearing is the most important sensory modality for marine mammals underwater, and exposure to anthropogenic sound can have deleterious effects. To appropriately assess the potential effects of exposure to sound, it is necessary to understand the frequency ranges marine mammals are able to hear. Current data indicate that not all marine mammal species have equal hearing capabilities (e.g., Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok and Ketten, 1999; Au and Hastings, 2008). To reflect this, Southall et al. (2007) recommended that marine mammals be divided into functional hearing groups based on directly measured or estimated hearing ranges on the basis of available behavioral response data, audiograms derived using auditory evoked potential techniques, anatomical modeling, and other data. Note that no direct measurements of hearing ability have been successfully completed for mysticetes (i.e., low-frequency cetaceans). Subsequently, NMFS (2016) described generalized hearing ranges for these marine mammal hearing groups. Generalized hearing ranges were chosen based on the approximately 65 dB threshold from the normalized composite audiograms, with the exception for lower limits for lowfrequency cetaceans where the lower bound was deemed to be biologically implausible and the lower bound from Southall et al. (2007) retained. The functional groups and the associated frequencies are indicated below in Table 5 (note that these frequency ranges correspond to the range for the composite group, with the entire range not necessarily reflecting the capabilities of every species within that group). TABLE 5—MARINE MAMMAL HEARING GROUPS AND THEIR GENERALIZED HEARING RANGE Generalized hearing range * Hearing group Low-frequency (LF) cetaceans (baleen whales) ..................................................................................................................... Mid-frequency (MF) cetaceans (dolphins, toothed whales, beaked whales, bottlenose whales) ........................................... High-frequency (HF) cetaceans (true porpoises, Kogia, river dolphins, cephalorhynchid, Lagenorhynchus cruciger and L. australis). Phocid pinnipeds (PW) (underwater) (true seals) ................................................................................................................... Otariid pinnipeds (OW) (underwater) (sea lions and fur seals) .............................................................................................. 7 Hz to 35 kHz. 150 Hz to 160 kHz. 275 Hz to 160 kHz. 50 Hz to 86 kHz. 60 Hz to 39 kHz. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES * Represents the generalized hearing range for the entire group as a composite (i.e., all species within the group), where individual species’ hearing ranges are typically not as broad. Generalized hearing range chosen based on ∼65 dB threshold from normalized composite audiogram, with the exception for lower limits for LF cetaceans (Southall et al., 2007) and PW pinniped (approximation). The pinniped functional hearing group was modified from Southall et al. (2007) on the basis of data indicating that phocid species have consistently demonstrated an extended frequency range of hearing compared to otariids, especially in the higher frequency range VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 ¨ (Hemila et al., 2006; Kastelein et al., 2009; Reichmuth and Holt, 2013). For more detail concerning these groups and associated frequency ranges, please see NMFS (2016) for a review of available information. As mentioned previously in this document, three marine mammal species (zero cetacean PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 and three pinniped (two otariid and one phocid) species) have the reasonable potential to co-occur with the proposed activities (Table 3). Harbor seals are classified as members of the phocid pinnipeds in water functional hearing group, while Steller and California sea lions are grouped under the otariid E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES pinnipeds in water functional hearing group. A species’ functional hearing group is a consideration when we analyze the effects of exposure to sound on marine mammals. Acoustic Impacts Please refer to the information given previously (Description of Sound Sources) regarding sound, characteristics of sound types, and metrics used in this document. Anthropogenic sounds cover a broad range of frequencies and sound levels and can have a range of highly variable impacts on marine life, from none or minor to potentially severe responses, depending on received levels, duration of exposure, behavioral context, and various other factors. The potential effects of underwater sound form active acoustic sources can potentially result in one or more of the following: Temporary or permanent hearing impairment, non-auditory physical or physiological effects, behavioral disturbance, stress, and masking (Richardson et al., 1995; Gordon et al., 2004; Nowacek et al., 2007; Southall et al., 2007; Gotz et al., 2009). The effects of pile driving on marine mammals are dependent on several factors, including the size, type, and depth of the animal; the depth, intensity, and duration of the pile driving sound; the depth of the water column; the substrate of the habitat; the standoff distance between the pile and the animal; and the sound propagation properties of the environment. Impacts to marine mammals from pile driving activities are expected to result primarily from acoustic pathways. As such, the degree of effect is intrinsically related to the received level and duration of the sound exposure, which are in turn influenced by the distance between the animal and the source. The further away from the source, the less intense the exposure should be. The substrate and depth of the habitat affect the sound propagation properties of the environment. Shallow environments are typically more structurally complex, which leads to rapid sound attenuation. In addition, substrates that are soft (e.g., sand) would absorb or attenuate the sound more readily than hard substrates (e.g., rock) which may reflect the acoustic wave. Soft porous substrates would also likely require less time to drive the pile, and possibly less forceful equipment, which would ultimately decrease the intensity of the acoustic source. In the absence of mitigation, impacts to marine species would be expected to result from physiological and behavioral responses to both the type and strength of the acoustic signature (Viada et al., VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 2008). The type and severity of behavioral impacts are more difficult to define due to limited studies addressing the behavioral effects of impulse sounds on marine mammals. Potential effects from impulse sound sources can range in severity from effects such as behavioral disturbance or tactile perception to physical discomfort, slight injury of the internal organs and the auditory system, or mortality (Yelverton et al., 1973). Hearing Impairment and Other Physical Effects—Marine mammals exposed to high intensity sound repeatedly or for prolonged periods can experience hearing threshold shift (TS), which is the loss of hearing sensitivity at certain frequency ranges (Kastak et al., 1999; Schlundt et al., 2000; Finneran et al., 2002, 2005). TS can be permanent (PTS) in which case the loss of hearing sensitivity is not recoverable, or temporary (TTS), in which the animal’s hearing threshold would recover over time (Southall et al., 2007). Marine mammals depend on acoustic cues for vital biological functions (e.g., orientation, communication, foraging, avoiding predators); thus, TTS may result in reduced fitness in survival and reproduction. However, this depends on the frequency and duration of TTS, as well as the biological context in which it occurs. TTS of limited duration, occurring in a frequency range that does not coincide with that used for recognition of important acoustic cues, would have little to no effect on an animal’s fitness. Repeated sound exposure that leads to TTS could cause PTS. PTS constitutes injury, but TTS does not (Southall et al., 2007). The following subsections discuss in somewhat more detail the possibilities of TTS, PTS, and non-auditory physical effects. Temporary Threshold Shift—TTS is the mildest form of hearing impairment that can occur during exposure to a strong sound (Kryter 1985). While experiencing TTS, the hearing threshold rises, and a sound must be stronger in order to be heard. In terrestrial mammals, TTS can last from minutes or hours to days (in cases of strong TTS). For sound exposures at or somewhat above the TTS threshold, hearing sensitivity in both terrestrial and marine mammals recovers rapidly after exposure to the sound ends. Few data on sound levels necessary to elicit mild TTS have been obtained for marine mammals, and none of the published data concern TTS elicited by exposure to multiple pulses of sound. Available data on TTS in marine mammals are summarized in Southall et al. (2007). PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 7687 Permanent Threshold Shift—When PTS occurs, there is physical damage to the sound receptors in the ear. In severe cases, there can be total or partial deafness, while in other cases the animal has an impaired ability to hear sounds in specific frequency ranges (Kryter 1985). There is no specific evidence that exposure to pulses of sound can call PTS in any marine mammal. However, given the possibility that mammals close to a sound source might incur TTS, there has been further speculation about the possibility that some individuals might incur PTS. Single or occasional occurrences of mild TTS are not indicative of permanent auditory damage but repeated (or in some cases) single exposures to a level well above that causing TTS onset might elicit PTS. Relationships between TTS and PTS thresholds have not been studied in marine mammals—PTS data exists only for a single harbor seal (Kastak et al., 2008)—but are assumed to be similar to those in humans and other terrestrial mammals. PTS might occur at a received sound level at least several decibels above that inducing mild TTS if the animal were exposed to strong sound pulses with rapid rise time. Based on data from terrestrial mammals, a precautionary assumption is that the PTS threshold for impulse sounds (such as pile driving pulses received close to the source) is at least 6 dB higher than the TTS threshold on a peak-pressure basis and PTS cumulative sound exposure level threshold are 15 to 20 dB higher than TTS cumulative sound exposure level thresholds (Southall et al., 2007). Given the higher level of sound or longer exposure duration necessary to cause PTS as compared with TTS, it is considerably less likely that PTS could occur. The City will enforce a Level A exclusion zone to prevent PTS for all activities (see Proposed Mitigation section below). Non-auditory Physiological Effects— Non-auditory physiological effects or injuries that might theoretically occur in marine mammals exposed to strong underwater sound include stress, neurological effects, bubble formation, resonance effects, and other types of organ or tissue damage (Cox et al., 2006; Southall et al., 2007). Studies examining such effects are limited. In general, little is known about the potential for pile driving to cause auditory impairment or other physical effects in marine mammals. Available data suggest that such effects, if they occur at all, would presumably be limited to short distances from the sound source and to activities that extend over a prolonged period. The available data do not allow E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 7688 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES identification of a specific exposure level above which non-auditory effects can be expected (Southall et al., 2007) or any meaningful quantitative predictions of the numbers (if any) of marine mammals that might be affected in those ways. However, the proposed activities do not involve the use of devices such as explosives or midfrequency active sonar that are associated with these types of effects. Therefore, non-auditory physiological impacts to marine mammals are considered unlikely. Disturbance Reactions Disturbance includes a variety of effects, including subtle changes in behavior, more conspicuous changes in activities, and displacement. Behavioral responses to sound are highly variable and context-specific and reactions, if any, depend on species, state of maturity, experience, current activity, reproductive state, auditory sensitivity, time of day, and many other factors (Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok et al., 2003; Southall et al., 2007). Habituation can occur when an animal’s response to a stimulus wanes with repeated exposure, usually in the absence of unpleasant associated events (Wartzok et al., 2003). Animals are most likely to habituate to sounds that are predictable and unvarying. The opposite process is sensitization, when an unpleasant experience leads to subsequent responses, often in the form of avoidance, at a lower level of exposure. Behavioral state may affect the type of response as well. For example, animals that are resting may show greater behavioral change in response to disturbing sound levels than animals that are highly motivated to remain in an area for feeding (Richardson et al., 1995; NRC 2003; Wartzok et al., 2003). Controlled experiments with captive marine mammals showed pronounced behavioral reactions, including avoidance of loud sound sources (Ridgeway et al., 1997; Finneran et al., 2003). Responses to continuous sound, such as vibratory pile installation, have not been documented as well as responses to pulsed sounds. With vibratory pile driving (and removal, as in this project), it is likely that the onset of pile driving could result in temporary, short term changes in an animal’s typical behavior and/or avoidance of the affected area. These behavioral changes may include (Richardson et al., 1995): Changing durations of surfacing and dives; moving direction and/or speed; reduced/increased vocal activities; changing/cessation of certain behavioral VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 activities (such as socializing or feeding); visible startle response or aggressive behavior; avoidance of areas where sound sources are located; and/ or flight responses (e.g., pinnipeds flushing into the water from haul-outs or rookeries). Pinnipeds may also increase their haul-out time, possibly to avoid in-water disturbance (Thorson and Reyff, 2006). The biological significance of many of these behavioral disturbances is difficult to predict, especially if the detected disturbances appear minor. However, the consequences of behavioral modification could be expected to be biologically significant if the change affects growth, survival, or reproduction. Significant behavioral modifications that could potentially lead to effects on growth, survival, or reproduction include: • Drastic changes in diving/surfacing patterns; • Habitat abandonment due to loss of desirable acoustic environment; and • Cessation of feeding or social interaction. The onset of behavioral disturbances from anthropogenic sound depends on both external factors (characteristics of sound sources and their paths) and the specific characteristics of the receiving animals (hearing, motivation, experience, demography) and is difficult to predict (Southall et al., 2007). Auditory Masking Natural and artificial sounds can disrupt behavior by masking, or interfering with, a marine mammal’s ability to hear other sounds. Masking occurs when the receipt of a sound is interfered with by another coincident sound at similar frequencies and at similar or higher levels. Chronic exposure to excessive, though not highintensity, sound could cause masking at particular frequencies for marine mammals which utilize sound for vital biological functions. Masking can interfere with detection of acoustic signals such as communication calls, echolocation sounds, and environmental sounds important to marine mammals. Therefore, under certain circumstances, marine mammals whose acoustical sensors or environment are being severely masked could also be impaired from maximizing their performance fitness in survival and reproduction. If the coincident (masking) sound were man-made, it could potentially be harassing if it disrupted hearing-related behavior. It is important to distinguish TTS and PTS, which persist after the sound exposure, from masking, which occurs only during the sound exposure. Because masking PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 (without resulting in TS) is not associated with abnormal physiological function, it is not considered a physiological effect, but rather a potential behavioral effect. The frequency range of the potentially masking sound is important in determining any potential behavioral impacts. Because sound generated from in-water vibratory pile driving is mostly concentrated at low frequency ranges, it may have less effect on high frequency echolocation sounds by odontocetes, which may hunt harbor seals. However, lower frequency man-made sounds are more likely to affect detection of communication calls and other potentially important natural sounds such as surf and prey sound. It may also affect communication signals when they occur near the sound band and thus reduce the communication space of animals (e.g., Clark et al., 2009) and cause increased stress levels (e.g., Foote et al., 2004; Holt et al., 2009). Masking affects both senders and receivers of acoustic signals and can potentially have long-term chronic effects on marine mammals at the population level as well as the individual level. Low-frequency ambient sound levels have increased by as much as 20 dB (more than three times in terms of SPL) in the world’s ocean from pre-industrial periods, with most of the increase from distant commercial shipping (Hildebrand 2009). All anthropogenic sound sources, but especially chronic and lower-frequency signals (e.g., from vessel traffic), contribute to elevated ambient sound levels, thus intensifying masking. Vibratory pile removal is relatively short-term, with rapid oscillations occurring for approximately 30 minutes per pile. It is possible that the vibratory pile removal resulting from this proposed action may mask acoustic signals important to the behavior and survival of marine mammal species, but the short-term duration and limited affected area would result in insignificant impacts from masking. Any masking event that could possibly rise to Level B harassment under the MMPA would occur concurrently within the zones of behavioral harassment already estimated for vibratory pile driving, and which have already been taken into account in the exposure analysis. Acoustic Effects, Airborne—Marine mammals, specifically California sea lions, that occur in the project area could be exposed to airborne sounds associated with pile driving and other construction activities (e.g., concrete removal) that have the potential to cause harassment, depending on their distance E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES from pile driving activities. Airborne construction sounds may be an issue for pinnipeds either hauled-out or looking with heads above water in the project area. Most likely, airborne sound would cause behavioral responses similar to those discussed above in relation to underwater sound. For instance, anthropogenic sound could cause hauled-out pinnipeds to exhibit changes in their normal behavior, such as reduction in vocalizations, or cause them to temporarily abandon their habitat and move further from the source. Studies by Blackwell et al. (2002) and Moulton et al. (2005) indicate a tolerance or lack of response to unweighted airborne sounds as high as 112 dB peak and 96 dB rms. Visual Disturbance—While three species of pinnipeds occur in the project area, only California sea lions are known to haul out in the vicinity of the bridges. California sea lions hauled out on the riverbanks below the bridge crossings and rail trestle may be visually disturbed by the increased presence of humans and construction equipment. Much of the work will occur above the riverbanks but some work will occur on the shore (e.g., concrete footing removal) in the vicinity of California sea lions. Sea lions may flush from their haul out site if construction equipment (e.g., excavator, crane, concrete saw) or personnel are present. General construction work associated with the demolition and installation of roadway and railway superstructures has the potential to visually disturb California sea lions. Anticipated Effects on Habitat The primary potential effects to marine mammal habitat are associated with elevated sound levels produced by construction activities (e.g., pile driving, concrete removal) in the area. However, other potential impacts to the surrounding habitat from physical disturbance are also possible. Potential Pile Driving Effects on Prey—Construction activities would produce continuous (i.e., vibratory pile driving) and impulsive (i.e., impact pile driving) sounds. Fish react to sounds that are especially strong and/or intermittent low-frequency sounds. Short duration, sharp sounds can cause overt or subtle changes in fish behavior and local distribution. Hastings and Popper (2005) identified several studies that suggest fish may relocate to avoid certain areas of sound energy. Additional studies have documented effects of pile driving on fish, although several are based on studies in support of large, multiyear bridge construction projects (e.g., Scholik and Yan, 2001, VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 2002; Popper and Hastings, 2009). Sound pulses at received levels of 160 dB may cause subtle changes in fish behavior. SPLs of 180 dB may cause noticeable changes in behavior (Pearson et al., 1992; Skalski et al., 1992). SPLs of sufficient strength have been known to cause injury to fish and fish mortality. The most likely impact to fish from pile driving activities at the project area would be temporary behavioral avoidance of the area. The duration of fish avoidance of this area after pile driving stops is unknown, but a rapid return to normal recruitment, distribution, and behavior is anticipated. In general, impacts to marine mammal prey species are expected to be minor and temporary due to the short timeframe for the project. Effects to Foraging Habitat—Pile installation and removal may temporarily increase turbidity resulting from suspended sediments. Any increases would be temporary, localized, and minimal. The City of Astoria must comply with state water quality standards during these operations by limiting the extent of turbidity to the immediate project area. In general, turbidity associated with pile installation is localized to about a 25-ft (7.62 m) radius around the pile (Everitt et al., 1980). Natural tidal currents and flow patterns in the Columbia River routinely disturb sediments. High volume tidal events can result in hydraulic forces that re-suspend benthic sediments, temporarily elevating turbidity locally. Any temporary increase as a result of the proposed action is not anticipated to measurably exceed levels caused by these normal, natural periods. In summary, given the short daily duration of sound associated with individual pile driving and removal events and the relatively small areas being affected, the proposed activities are not likely to have a permanent adverse effect on any fish habitat, or populations of fish species. Thus, any impacts to marine mammal habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term consequences for individual marine mammals or their populations. Estimated Take This section provides an estimate of the number of incidental takes proposed for authorization through this IHA, which will inform both NMFS’ consideration of whether the number of takes is ‘‘small’’ and the negligible impact determination. Harassment is the only type of take expected to result from these activities. Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, section 3(18) of the PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 7689 MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (Level B harassment). Authorized takes would be by Level B harassment only, for individual marine mammals resulting from exposure to pile driving and construction activities. Based on the nature of the activity and the anticipated effectiveness of the mitigation measures (i.e., shutdown— discussed in detail below in Proposed Mitigation section), Level A harassment is neither anticipated nor proposed to be authorized. As described previously, no mortality is anticipated or proposed to be authorized for this activity. Below we describe how the take is estimated. Described in the most basic way, we estimate take by considering: (1) Acoustic thresholds above which NMFS believes the best available science indicates marine mammals will be behaviorally harassed or incur some degree of permanent hearing impairment; (2) the area or volume of water that will be ensonified above these levels in a day; (3) the density or occurrence of marine mammals within these ensonified areas; and, (4) and the number of days of activities. Below, we describe these components in more detail and present the proposed take estimate. Acoustic Thresholds Using the best available science, NMFS has developed acoustic thresholds that identify the received level of underwater sound above which exposed marine mammals would be reasonably expected to be behaviorally harassed (equated to Level B harassment) or to incur PTS of some degree (equated to Level A harassment). Thresholds have also been developed identifying the received level of in-air sound above which exposed pinnipeds would likely be behaviorally harassed. Level B Harassment for non-explosive sources—Though significantly driven by received level, the onset of behavioral disturbance from anthropogenic noise exposure is also informed to varying degrees by other factors related to the source (e.g., frequency, predictability, duty cycle), the environment (e.g., bathymetry), and the receiving animals (hearing, motivation, experience, demography, behavioral context) and E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 7690 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices can be difficult to predict (Southall et al., 2007, Ellison et al., 2011). Based on what the available science indicates and the practical need to use a threshold based on a factor that is both predictable and measurable for most activities, NMFS uses a generalized acoustic threshold based on received level to estimate the onset of behavioral harassment. NMFS predicts that marine mammals are likely to be behaviorally harassed in a manner we consider Level B harassment when exposed to underwater anthropogenic noise above received levels of 120 dB re 1 mPa (rms) for continuous (e.g. vibratory piledriving, drilling) and above 160 dB re 1 mPa (rms) for non-explosive impulsive (e.g., seismic airguns) or intermittent (e.g., scientific sonar) sources. For in-air sounds, NMFS predicts that pinnipeds exposed above received levels of 100 dB re 20 mPa (rms) will be behaviorally harassed. The City’s proposed activities include the use of continuous (vibratory pile driving) and impulsive (impact pile driving) sources, and therefore the 120 and 160 dB re 1 mPa (rms) are applicable. Level A harassment for non-explosive sources—NMFS’ Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing (Technical Guidance, 2016) identifies dual criteria to assess auditory injury (Level A harassment) to five different marine mammal groups (based on hearing sensitivity) as a result of exposure to noise from two different types of sources (impulsive or nonimpulsive). The City’s proposed activities include the use of impulsive (impact pile driving) and non-impulsive (vibratory pile driving) sources. These thresholds were developed by compiling and synthesizing the best available science and soliciting input multiple times from both the public and peer reviewers to inform the final product, and are provided in Table 6 below. The references, analysis, and methodology used in the development of the thresholds are described in NMFS 2016 Technical Guidance, which may be accessed at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/resource/ document/underwater-acousticthresholds-onset-permanent-andtemporary-threshold-shifts. TABLE 6—THRESHOLDS IDENTIFYING THE ONSET OF PERMANENT THRESHOLD SHIFT PTS onset thresholds Hearing group Impulsive Low-Frequency (LF) Cetaceans ............................................. Mid-Frequency (MF) Cetaceans ............................................. High-Frequency (HF) Cetaceans ............................................ Phocid Pinnipeds (PW) (Underwater) ..................................... Otariid Pinnipeds (OW) (Underwater) ..................................... Lpk,flat: Lpk,flat: Lpk,flat: Lpk,flat: Lpk,flat: 219 230 202 218 232 dB; dB; dB; dB; dB; Non-impulsive LE,LF,24h: 183 dB ........................................... LE,MF,24h: 185 dB .......................................... LE,HF,24h: 155 dB ........................................... LE,PW,24h: 185 dB .......................................... LE,OW,24h: 203 dB ......................................... LE,LF,24h: 199 dB. LE,MF,24h: 198 dB. LE,HF,24h: 173 dB. LE,PW,24h: 201 dB. LE,OW,24h: 219 dB. * Dual metric acoustic thresholds for impulsive sounds: Use whichever results in the largest isopleth for calculating PTS onset. If a non-impulsive sound has the potential of exceeding the peak sound pressure level thresholds associated with impulsive sounds, these thresholds should also be considered. Note: Peak sound pressure (Lpk) has a reference value of 1 μPa, and cumulative sound exposure level (LE) has a reference value of 1μPa2s. In this Table, thresholds are abbreviated to reflect American National Standards Institute standards (ANSI 2013). However, peak sound pressure is defined by ANSI as incorporating frequency weighting, which is not the intent for this Technical Guidance. Hence, the subscript ‘‘flat’’ is being included to indicate peak sound pressure should be flat weighted or unweighted within the generalized hearing range. The subscript associated with cumulative sound exposure level thresholds indicates the designated marine mammal auditory weighting function (LF, MF, and HF cetaceans, and PW and OW pinnipeds) and that the recommended accumulation period is 24 hours. The cumulative sound exposure level thresholds could be exceeded in a multitude of ways (i.e., varying exposure levels and durations, duty cycle). When possible, it is valuable for action proponents to indicate the conditions under which these acoustic thresholds will be exceeded. Ensonified Area Here, we describe operational and environmental parameters of the activity that will feed into identifying the area ensonified above the acoustic thresholds. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES Level B Harassment In-Air Disturbance during General Construction Activities—Level B behavioral disturbance may occur incidental to the use of construction equipment during general construction that is proposed in the dry, above water, or inland within close proximity to the river banks. These construction activities are associated with the removal and construction of the rail superstructures, and the removal of the existing concrete foundations and the 9th Street retaining wall. Possible equipment includes an excavator, crane, dump truck, and chain saw. It is estimated that the sound levels during these activities will range from 78 to 93 dB RMS at 20 m from the sound source, VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:00 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 with the loudest airborne noise produced by the use of a concrete saw (Hanan & Associates, 2014). These noise levels are based on acoustic data collected during the City of San Diego Lifeguard Station Demolition and Construction Monitoring project. Using the Spherical Spreading Loss Model (20logR), a maximum sound source level of 93 dB RMS at 20 m, sound levels in-air would attenuate below the 90dB RMS Level B harassment threshold for harbor seals at 28 m, and below the 100 dB RMS threshold for all other pinnipeds at 9 m. Harbor seals are only present in the main river channel and are not expected to occur within 28 m of the activity and are therefore not expected to be harassed by in-air sound. Additionally, the city is proposing a 10 m shutdown zone for all general construction work to prevent injury from physical interaction with equipment. The City would therefore shut down equipment before hauled out sea lions could be acoustically harassed PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 by the sound produced. No Level B harassment is expected to occur due to increased sounds from railway and roadway construction. However, sea lions may be disturbed by the presence of construction equipment and increased human presence during above-water construction. Although some piles may potentially be driven or removed in the dry due to tidal conditions, the City is assuming all pile driving and removal will occur in water. The Level B zone of influence for in-water pile driving and removal is greater than the airborne zone of influence so no airborne harassment is requested from pile driving or removal. All harassment due to pile driving and removal is assumed to be in-water. In-Water Disturbance during Vibratory Pile Removal—Level B behavioral disturbance may occur incidental to the use of a vibratory hammer due to propagation of underwater noise during the removal of the existing timber substructures. An E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 7691 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices estimated 255 timber piles will need to be removed to facilitate construction of the three new crossings. It is anticipated that the contractor will need to utilize a vibratory hammer during extraction. Removal via vibratory hammer will result in the greatest amount of underwater noise during construction and will be the farthest reaching extent of aquatic impacts during pile removal activities. We note that some pile removal will occur in the dry (depending on tidal stage); however, we are conservatively assuming all work would occur in-water since it is not feasible to determine how many piles would be removed in the dry. When piles are removed at lower tidal stages, we do not anticipate sound to propagate as far or, in the case of no water, at all. Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) monitored underwater noise during the removal of three 12-in timber dolphin piles at Port Townsend (Laughlin, 2011a). Most of the timber piles to be removed in this project are 12-in but some may be up to 14-in. Average noise levels during vibratory removal of the wood piles were measured at 150 dB RMS at 16 m from the source. The Practical Spreading Loss Model (15logR) was used to calculate the in-water Level B Zone of Influence (ZOI) during vibratory pile removal. Using a measurement of 150dB at 16 m, a 1,600 m Level B ZOI (120 dB RMS threshold) is expected for vibratory pile removal activities. Based on the contours of the shoreline and 1,600 m ZOI, a total of 4.5 square kilometers (km2) is expected to be ensonified due to vibratory pile removal (see Figure 10 in application) (Table 7). In-Water Disturbance during Impact Pile Driving—Level B behavioral disturbance may occur incidental to the use of an impact hammer due to the propagation of underwater noise during the installation of permanent and temporary steel piles. The City proposes to install a total of 74 24-in and 10 16in steel piles. The City used the sound source levels from 24-in piles only to estimate the ZOI due to pile driving as the sound source levels from 24-in piles are greater than those of 16-in piles. The City will use the ZOI created by installation of 24-in piles during the installation of 16-in piles to be conservative. Based on the most recent WSDOT data, the unmitigated sound pressure level associated with impact pile driving 24-in steel piles is 194 dB RMS at 10 m (WSDOT, 2016). The contractor will be required to use a bubble curtain device during impact pile driving in compliance with the Federal Aid Highway Program (FAHP) Programmatic Biological Opinion which will be utilized for ESA coverage for listed salmonids. Use of a bubble curtain device was assumed to decrease initial sound levels by 10 dB (Reyff 2007), resulting in an initial SPL of 184 dB RMS at 10 m from the source. Using the values from WSDOT in the Practical Spreading Loss Model (15logR), the distance to the 160 dB behavioral disturbance threshold is calculated to be 398 m from the pile when a noise attenuation device is used (Table 7) as opposed to 1,848 m when a device is not used. The use of a noise attenuation device would shrink the distance at which noise exceeds the thresholds by approximately 80 percent, resulting in a significantly smaller area of potential impact. With a 398 m ZOI, a total of 0.40 km2 is expected to be ensonified by impact pile driving (Figure 11 in application). TABLE 7—INPUTS AND RESULTING DISTANCES TO LEVEL B HARASSMENT ISOPLETHS Activity SL (distance measured) 1 Threshold level Vibratory pile driving/removal ....................... Impact pile driving (24-in piles) ..................... General Construction (in-air) ........................ 150 dB (16 m) ........... 184 dB (10 m) ........... 93 dB (20 m) ............. 120 dB re 1 μPa ....... 160 dB re 1 μPa ....... 100 dB re 20 μPa ..... daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES Level A Harassment When NMFS Technical Guidance (2016) was published, in recognition of the fact that ensonified area/volume could be more technically challenging to predict because of the duration component in the new thresholds, we developed a User Spreadsheet that includes tools to help predict a simple isopleth that can be used in conjunction with marine mammal density or occurrence to help predict takes. We note that because of some of the assumptions included in the methods used for these tools, we anticipate that isopleths produced are typically going to be overestimates of some degree, which will result in some degree of overestimate of Level A take. However, these tools offer the best way to predict appropriate isopleths when more sophisticated 3D modeling methods are not available, and NMFS continues to develop ways to quantitatively refine these tools, and will qualitatively address the output where appropriate. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 Propagation loss coefficient 15 15 20 For stationary sources (such as impact and vibratory pile driving), NMFS User Spreadsheet predicts the closest distance at which, if a marine mammal remained at that distance the whole duration of the activity, it would not incur PTS. Inputs used in the User Spreadsheet, and the resulting isopleths are reported below. TABLE 8—PTS ISOPLETH DATA FOR VIBRATORY PILE REMOVAL Source Level (RMS SPL) ........................ Activity Duration (hours) within 24-hr period ....................................................... Activity Duration (seconds) ..................... 10 Log (Duration) .................................... Propagation (xLogR) ............................... Distance of source level measurement (m) ....................................................... PO 00000 150 8 28,800 44.59 15 Level B isopleth (m) Level B area (km2) 1,600 398 9m 4.5 0.4 n/a TABLE 9—RESULTING PTS ISOPLETHS FOR VIBRATORY PILE DRIVING Phocid pinnipeds SELcum Threshold ............... PTS Isopleth to Threshold (meters) ........................... Otariid pinnipeds 210 219 4.9 0.3 TABLE 10—PTS ISOPLETH DATA FOR IMPACT PILE DRIVING Source Level (Single Strike/shot SEL) .... (a) Number of strikes in 1 h OR (b) Number of strikes per pile ................... (a) Activity Duration (h) within 24-h period OR (b) Number of piles per day ... Propagation (xLogR) ............................... Distance of single strike SEL measurement (meters) ...................................... 168 250 4 15 10 16 TABLE 11—RESULTING PTS ISOPLETHS FOR IMPACT PILE DRIVING Phocid pinnipeds SELcum- Threshold .............. Frm 00038 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 Otariid pinnipeds 185 203 7692 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices ranged from 1 to 1,214, with a general TABLE 11—RESULTING PTS ISOPLETHS FOR IMPACT PILE DRIV- trend of lower numbers in the summer and winter, and peak counts in the fall ING—Continued Phocid pinnipeds Otariid pinnipeds 53.4 3.9 PTS Isopleth to Threshold (m) ................................... The resulting small PTS isopleths assume an animal would remain stationary at that distance for the duration of the activity. Given the extended durations and due to the relatively small distances to PTS onset from each activity, and the mitigation measures (See ‘‘Proposed Mitigation’’) proposed by the City, Level A take is neither expected nor authorized. Marine Mammal Occurrence In this section we provide the information about the presence, density, or group dynamics of marine mammals that will inform the take calculations. The City used species counts from 2000–2014 taken by WDFW from the South Jetty at the mouth of the Columbia River to determine the number of pinnipeds that may be in the vicinity of the project. Although the South Jetty is over 10 miles away from the project site, WDFW monthly counts are the best available data for potential marine mammal occurrence near the project site. Numbers of California sea lions hauled out at the South Jetty and spring. Monthly counts of Steller sea lions ranged from 177 to 1,663, with the highest numbers occurring in late fall and winter. Counts of harbor seals were not conducted every month, but the numbers of harbor seals at the South Jetty ranged from one to 57 seals. Take Calculation and Estimation Here we describe how the information provided above is brought together to produce a quantitative take estimate. Although three species of pinniped occur in the vicinity of the project, they do not occur in equal numbers. Harbor seals and Steller sea lions are only known to occur out in the river channel and would only be harassed if they are transiting through the Zone of Influence (1,600 m for vibratory pile removal, 398 m for impact pile driving). Harbor seals and Steller sea lions would only be harassed during the in-water work period (November through February). California sea lions are the most commonly seen in the area, and are known to haul out on the riverbanks and structures near the bridges. California sea lions may be harassed by underwater sound resulting from vibratory pile removal and impact pile driving (at the distances listed above) as well as airborne sound resulting from roadway and railway demolition and construction. Using the highest sound source (concrete saw, 93 dBRMS re: 20 mPa at 20 m), the isopleth to Level B harassment from airborne noise (100 dB re: 20 mPa) is 9 m. The City is proposing a 10 m shutdown zone during all railway and roadway above-water construction to prevent injury from physical interaction with equipment (see ‘‘Proposed Mitigation’’). The City would therefore shut down equipment before sea lions would be acoustically harassed by the sound produced and no Level B acoustic harassment would occur. However, the City anticipates that California sea lions hauled out on the banks of the river in the vicinity of the construction work may be visually disturbed by the presence of construction equipment and may flush, resulting in Level B take. Therefore, the City is requesting take of California sea lions during the above-water work period (October 2018 and March–April 2019). While harbor seals and Steller sea lions would only be harassed during the in-water work period (November through February), California sea lions may be harassed over the entire duration of the project (October through April). To determine the estimated pinniped exposure and take, average monthly counts for each species from the South Jetty haulout (Table 12) were multiplied by the duration (months) of their expected exposure (Table 13). TABLE 12—AVERAGE COUNTS OF PINNIPEDS AT SOUTH JETTY HAULOUT Monthly average number of California sea lions Month October ........................................................................................................................................ November .................................................................................................................................... December .................................................................................................................................... January ........................................................................................................................................ February ....................................................................................................................................... March ........................................................................................................................................... April .............................................................................................................................................. Average over course of project ................................................................................................... For example, California sea lion take was estimated by multiplying the average monthly count at the South Jetty haulout from October through April 508 1,214 725 10 28 17 99 372 Monthly average numbers of harbor seals N/A 24 57 24 1 N/A N/A 27 Monthly average number of Steller sea lions N/A 1,663 1,112 249 259 N/A N/A 821 (372) by the number of months of project activity (7) for a total of 2,604. TABLE 13—ESTIMATED PINNIPED EXPOSURE AND TAKE daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES Average count per month 1 372 California Sea Lion .................................. Steller Sea Lion ....................................... Harbor Seal .............................................. 1 Average 2 Average In-air months In-water months 3 0 0 2 821 2 27 Total months of impacts 4 4 4 7 4 4 monthly counts from October through April at the South Jetty (WDFW 2014). monthly counts from November through February at the South Jetty (WDFW 2014). VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 Total take 2,604 3,284 108 Percent of stock 0.88 7.9 0.44 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES Proposed Mitigation In order to issue an IHA under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, ‘‘and other means of effecting the least practicable impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stock for taking’’ for certain subsistence uses (latter not applicable for this action). NMFS regulations require applicants for incidental take authorizations to include information about the availability and feasibility (economic and technological) of equipment, methods, and manner of conducting such activity or other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact upon the affected species or stocks and their habitat (50 CFR 216.104(a)(11)). In evaluating how mitigation may or may not be appropriate to ensure the least practicable adverse impact on species or stocks and their habitat, as well as subsistence uses where applicable, we carefully consider two primary factors: (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the measure(s) is expected to reduce impacts to marine mammals, marine mammal species or stocks, and their habitat. This considers the nature of the potential adverse impact being mitigated (likelihood, scope, range). It further considers the likelihood that the measure will be effective if implemented (probability of accomplishing the mitigating result if implemented as planned) the likelihood of effective implementation (probability implemented as planned); and (2) The practicability of the measures for applicant implementation, which may consider such things as cost, impact on operations, and, in the case of a military readiness activity, personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. Mitigation for Marine Mammals and Their Habitat General Construction Measures—All construction activities will be performed in accordance with the current Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Standard Specifications for Construction, the Contract Plans, and the Project Special Provisions. In addition, the following general construction measures will be adhered to. • All work below the HMT will be completed during the ODFW prescribed VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 IWWP of November 1 through February 28. • All work shall be performed according to the requirements and conditions of the regulatory permits issued by federal, state, and local governments. Seasonal restrictions, i.e., work windows, will be applied to the Project to avoid or minimize potential impacts to listed or proposed species based on agreement with, and the regulatory permits issued by Department of State Lands, and USACE in consultation with NMFS. The City will comply with all stipulations from the FAHP Biological Opinion for salmonids (i.e., using air bubble curtains). • The City will have an inspector onsite during construction. The role of the inspector is to ensure compliance with the construction contract and other permits and regulations. The onsite inspector will also perform marine mammal monitoring duties when protected species observers (PSOs) are not onsite (See Proposed Monitoring section). • To ensure no contaminants enter the water, mobile heavy equipment will be stored in a staging area at least 150 ft from the river or in an isolated hard zone. Equipment will be inspected daily for fluid leaks before leaving the staging area. Stationary equipment operated within 150 ft of the river will be maintained and protected to prevent leaks and spills. Erosion and sediment control BMPs will be installed prior to initiating and construction activities. • The contractor will be responsible for the preparation of a Pollution Control Plan (PCP). The PCP will designate a professional on-call spill response teams, and identify all contractor activities, hazardous substances used, and wastes generated. The PCP will describe how hazardous substances and wastes will be stored, used, contained, monitored, disposed of, and documented. Pile Removal and Installation BMPs— The following mitigation measures will be implemented to minimize disturbance during pile removal and installation activities. • An air bubble system shall be employed during impact installation unless the piles are driven on dry areas. • The contractor will implement a soft-start procedure for impact pile driving activities. The objective of a soft-start is to provide a warning and/or give animals in close proximity to pile driving a chance to leave the area prior to an impact driver operating at full capacity, thereby exposing fewer animals to loud underwater and airborne sounds. A soft-start procedure PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 7693 will be used at the beginning of each day that pile installation activities are conducted (i.e., for impact driving, an initial set of three strikes would be made by the hammer at 40 percent energy, followed by a one minute wait period, then two subsequent three-strike sets at 40 percent energy, with one minute waiting periods, before initiating continuous driving). • Monitoring of marine mammals shall take place starting 30 minutes before construction begins until 30 minutes after construction ends (See Proposed Monitoring). • Before commencement of vibratory pile removal activities, the City will establish a 15 m Level A Exclusion Zone. • Before commencement of impact pile driving activities, the City will establish a 53.4 m Level A Exclusion Zone. • Before commencement of above water construction activities, the City will establish a 10 m Level A Exclusion Zone to prevent injury from physical interaction with construction equipment. • The City shall shut down operations if a marine mammal is sighted within or approaching the Level A Exclusion Zone until the marine mammal is sighted moving away from the exclusion zone, or if not sighted for 15 minutes after the shutdown. The City will also shut down to prevent Level B takes when the take of a pinniped species is approaching the authorized take limits. • If the exclusion zone is obscured by poor lighting conditions, pile driving will not be initiated until the entire zone is visible. • In-water work will only commence once observers have declared the Exclusion Zone clear of marine mammals. Based on our evaluation of the applicant’s proposed measures, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the proposed mitigation measures provide the means effecting the least practicable impact on the affected species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance. Proposed Monitoring and Reporting In order to issue an IHA for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth, ‘‘requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.’’ The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for authorizations must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 7694 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present in the proposed action area. Effective reporting is critical both to compliance as well as ensuring that the most value is obtained from the required monitoring. Monitoring and reporting requirements prescribed by NMFS should contribute to improved understanding of one or more of the following: • Occurrence of marine mammal species or stocks in the area in which take is anticipated (e.g., presence, abundance, distribution, density). • Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment (e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) co-occurrence of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) biological or behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas). • Individual marine mammal responses (behavioral or physiological) to acoustic stressors (acute, chronic, or cumulative), other stressors, or cumulative impacts from multiple stressors. • How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) Long-term fitness and survival of individual marine mammals; or (2) populations, species, or stocks. • Effects on marine mammal habitat (e.g., marine mammal prey species, acoustic habitat, or other important physical components of marine mammal habitat). • Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness. Proposed Monitoring (1) Protected Species Observers: The City will employ qualified PSOs to monitor the extent of the Region of Activity for marine mammals. Qualifications for marine mammal observers include: a. Visual acuity in both eyes (correction is permissible) sufficient for discerning moving targets at the water’s surface with ability to estimate target size and distance. Use of binoculars is necessary to correctly identify the target. b. Advanced education (at least some college level course work) in biological science, wildlife management, mammalogy, or related fields (bachelor’s degree or higher is preferred but not required). VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 c. Experience or training in the field identification of marine mammals (cetaceans and pinnipeds). d. Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the construction operation to provide for personal safety during observations. e. Ability to communicate orally, by radio or in person, with project personnel to provide real time information on marine mammals observed in the area as necessary. f. Experience and ability to conduct field observations and collect data according to assigned protocols (this may include academic experience). g. Writing skills sufficient to prepare a report of observations that would include such information as the number and type of marine mammals observed; the behavior of marine mammals in the project area; dates and times when observations were conducted; dates and times when in-water construction activities were conducted; and dates and times when marine mammals were present at or within the defined Region of Activity. (2) Monitoring Schedule: PSOs shall be present onsite during IWW construction activities as follows: a. During vibratory pile removal activities: i. Two NMFS qualified observers will be onsite the first day of removal at each bridge, one NMFS qualified observer will be onsite every third day thereafter. ii. One NMFS qualified observer will be stationed at the best practicable landbased vantage point to observe the downstream portion of the disturbance zone, and the other positioned at the best practicable land-based vantage point to monitor the upstream portion of the disturbance zone. iii. When PSOs are not onsite, the contractor’s onsite inspector will be trained in species identification and monitoring protocol, and will be onsite during all pile removal activities to ensure that no species enter the 15 m Exclusion Zone. b. During pile driving activities: i. Two NMFS qualified observers will be onsite the first two days of pile driving at each bridge, and every third day thereafter. ii. One NMFS observer will be stationed at the best practicable landbased vantage point to observe the downstream portion of the disturbance and exclusion zones, and the other positioned at the best practicable landbased vantage point to monitor the upstream portion of the disturbance and exclusion zones. iii. When PSOs are not onsite, the contractor’s onsite inspector will be trained in species identification and PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 monitoring protocol, and will be onsite during all pile driving activities to ensure that no species enter the Exclusion Zone. c. During substructure demolition activities (not including pile driving/ removal) and superstructure demolition and construction activities: i. One NMFS qualified observer will be onsite once a week to monitor the Exclusion Zone within 10 m of the construction site. ii. When PSO is not on-site, the contractor’s inspector will be trained in species identification and monitoring protocol, and will be onsite during all construction activities to ensure that no species enter the 10 m Exclusion Zone during superstructure demolition and construction activities. (3) Monitoring Protocols: PSOs shall monitor marine mammal presence within the Level A Exclusion Zone and Level B ZOIs per the following protocols: a. A range finder or hand-held global positioning system device will be used by PSOs to ensure that the defined Exclusion Zones are fully monitored and the Level B ZOIs monitored to the best extent practicable. b. A 30-minute pre-construction marine mammal monitoring period will be required before the first pile driving or pile removal of the day. A 30-minute post-construction marine mammal monitoring period will be required after the last pile driving or pile removal of the day. If the contractor’s personnel take a break between subsequent pile driving or pile removal for more than 30 minutes, then additional preconstruction marine mammal monitoring will be required before the next start-up of pile driving or pile removal. c. If marine mammals are observed, the following information will be documented: i. Species of observed marine mammals; ii. Number of observed marine mammal individuals; iii. Life stages of marine mammals observed; iv. Behavioral habits, including feeding, of observed marine mammals, in both presence and absence of activities; v. Location within the Region of Activity; and vi. Animals’ reaction (if any) to pile driving activities or other constructionrelated stressors including: 1. Impacts to the long-term fitness of the individual animal, if any 2. Long-term impacts to the population, species, or stock (e.g., E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival), if any vii. Overall effectiveness of mitigation measures d. During vibratory pule removal and impact driving, qualified PSOs will monitor the Level B ZOIs from the best practicable land-based vantage point to observe the downstream and upstream portions of the disturbance zone according to the above schedule. e. PSOs shall use binoculars to monitor the Region of Activity. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES Reporting (1) The City shall provide NMFS with a draft monitoring report within 90 days of the conclusion of the construction work. This report shall detail the monitoring protocol, summarize the data recorded during monitoring, and estimate the number of marine mammals that may have been harassed. (2) If comments are received from the NMFS West Coast Regional Administrator or NMFS Office of Protected Resources on the draft report, a final report shall be submitted to NMFS within 30 days thereafter. If no comments are received from NMFS, the draft report will be considered to be the final report. (3) In the unanticipated event that the construction activities clearly cause the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by the NMFS authorization, such as an injury, serious injury, or mortality (e.g., gear interaction), the City shall immediately cease all operations and immediately report the incident to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, and the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinators. The report must include the following information: a. Time, date, and location (latitude/ longitude) of the incident; b. Description of the incident; c. Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding the incident; d. Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, visibility, and water depth); e. Description of marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident; f. Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved, including life stage and the fate of the animal(s); and g. Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if equipment is available). Activities shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS shall work with the City to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 compliance. Activities may not be resumed until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone. (4) In the event that the City discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the cause of injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in less than a moderate state of decay as described in the next paragraph), the City will immediately report the incident to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinators. The report must contain the same information identified above. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with the City to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate. (5) In the event that the City discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), the City shall report the incident to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinators, within 24 hours of the discovery. The City shall provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. The City can continue its operations under such a case. Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination NMFS has defined negligible impact as ‘‘an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival’’ (50 CFR 216.103). A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., populationlevel effects). An estimate of the number of takes alone is not enough information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be ‘‘taken’’ through harassment, NMFS considers other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (e.g., intensity, duration), the context of any responses (e.g., critical reproductive time or location, migration), as well as effects on habitat, and the likely effectiveness PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 7695 of the mitigation. We also assess the number, intensity, and context of estimated takes by evaluating this information relative to population status. Consistent with the 1989 preamble for NMFS’s implementing regulations (54 FR 40338; September 29, 1989), the impacts from other past and ongoing anthropogenic activities are incorporated into this analysis via their impacts on the environmental baseline (e.g., as reflected in the regulatory status of the species, population size and growth rate where known, ongoing sources of human-caused mortality, or ambient noise levels). To avoid repetition, the discussion of our analyses applies to all three species proposed to be taken by this project (California sea lion, Steller sea lion, and harbor seal), given that the anticipated effects of this activity on these different marine mammal stocks are expected to be similar. There is little information about the nature or severity of the impacts, or the size, status, or structure of any of these species or stocks that would lead to a different analysis for this activity. Authorized takes are expected to be limited to short-term Level B harassment. Marine mammals present in the vicinity of the action area and taken by Level B harassment would most likely show overt brief disturbance (startle reaction, flushing) and avoidance of the area from elevated noise levels during pile removal and installation and railway superstructure construction. The project is not expected to have a significant adverse effect on affected marine mammal habitat, as discussed in detail in the ‘‘Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat’’ section. There is no critical habitat in the vicinity of the project and the project activities would not permanently modify existing marine mammal habitat. The impacts to marine mammal habitat from the proposed construction actions are expected to be temporary and include increased human activity and noise levels, minimal impacts to water quality, and negligible changes in prey availability near the individual bridge sites. Pinnipeds in the vicinity are likely habituated to high levels of human activity as the Astoria waterfront is a highly developed area. The project may benefit marine mammal habitat by removing several hundred treated timber piles from the Columbia River. Impacts to exposed pinnipeds are expected to be minor and temporary. The area likely impacted by the construction is relatively small compared to the available habitat in the river. For California and Steller sea E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 7696 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES lions, sub-adult and adult males could be harassed during construction activities. For harbor seals, sub-adult and adult males and/or females could be harassed during construction activities. The project occurs outside of known pupping periods for all species, and there are no known rookeries within the region of activity. No pups or breeding adults are expected to be affected by the project activities. In summary and as described above, the following factors primarily support our preliminary determination that the impacts resulting from this activity are not expected to adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival: • No mortality is anticipated or authorized; • No injury or serious injury is anticipated or authorized; • In-water work is limited to a fourmonth period, and likely only 80 days within that time; • No permanent effects to marine mammal habitat or prey is expected; • Marine mammals are currently exposed to high human use area and are likely habituated to disturbance; • Any impacts from the project are expected to result in short-term, mild behavioral reactions such as avoidance or flushing; • There are no known important feeding, pupping, or other areas of biological significance in the project area; and • The project affects only a small percentage of each stock of marine mammal affected, and only in a limited portion of their overall range. Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the proposed monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS preliminarily finds that the total marine mammal take from the proposed activity will have a negligible impact on all affected marine mammal species or stocks. Small Numbers As noted above, only small numbers of incidental take may be authorized under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for specified activities other than military readiness activities. The MMPA does not define small numbers and so, in practice, where estimated numbers are available, NMFS compares the number of individuals taken to the most appropriate estimation of abundance of the relevant species or stock in our determination of whether an authorization is limited to small numbers of marine mammals. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 Additionally, other qualitative factors may be considered in the analysis, such as the temporal or spatial scale of the activities. The number of each species proposed to be taken as a result of this project is less than 10 percent of the total stock. In fact, the numbers of California sea lions and harbor seals is less than one percent of their respective stock abundance estimates. Additionally, the number of takes requested is based on the number of estimated exposures, not necessarily the number of individuals exposed. Pinnipeds may remain in the general area of the project sites and the same individuals may be harassed multiple times over multiple days, rather than numerous individuals harassed once. Based on the analysis contained herein of the proposed activity (including the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures) and the anticipated take of marine mammals, NMFS preliminarily finds that small numbers of marine mammals will be taken relative to the population size of the affected species or stocks. Unmitigable Adverse Impact Analysis and Determination There are no relevant subsistence uses of the affected marine mammal stocks or species implicated by this action. Therefore, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the total taking of affected species or stocks would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes. Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, NMFS consults internally, in this case with the NMFS West Coast Region Protected Resources Division Office, whenever we propose to authorize take for endangered or threatened species. No incidental take of ESA-listed species is proposed for authorization or expected to result from this activity. Therefore, NMFS has determined that formal consultation under section 7 of the ESA is not required for this action. Proposed Authorization As a result of these preliminary determinations, NMFS proposes to issue PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 an IHA to the City of Astoria for conducting waterfront bridge removal and replacement in Astoria, OR from October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. This section contains a draft of the IHA itself. The wording contained in this section is proposed for inclusion in the IHA (if issued). Incidental Harassment Authorization The City of Astoria (City) is hereby authorized under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(5)(D)) to harass marine mammals incidental to the Waterfront Bridges Replacement Project in Astoria, Oregon, when adhering to the following terms and conditions. 1. This Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) is valid from October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019. 2. This IHA is valid only for construction activities associated with the Waterfront Bridges Replacement Project in Astoria, Oregon. 3. General Conditions: (a) A copy of this IHA must be in the possession of the City, its designees, and work crew personnel operating under the authority of this IHA. (b) The species authorized for taking are the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus), Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus), and Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii). (c) The taking, by Level B harassment only, is limited to the species listed in condition 3(b). The authorized take numbers are shown below and in Table 1: i. 2,604 California sea lions ii. 3,284 Steller sea lions iii. 108 Pacific harbor seals (d) The taking by injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or death of any of the species listed in condition 3(b) of the Authorization or any taking of any other species of marine mammal is prohibited and may result in the modification, suspension, or revocation of this IHA. (e) The City shall conduct briefings between construction supervisors and crews, marine mammal monitoring team, acoustical monitoring team, and City staff prior to the start of all construction work, and when new personnel join the work, in order to explain responsibilities, communication procedures, marine mammal monitoring protocol, and operational procedures. E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices 4. Mitigation Measures The holder of this Authorization is required to implement the following mitigation measures: daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES (a) General Construction Measures i. All construction activities shall be performed in accordance with the current ODOT Standard Specifications for Construction, the Contract Plans, and the Project Special Provisions. In addition, the following general construction measures will be adhered to: a. All work shall be performed according to the requirements and conditions of the regulatory permits issued by federal, state, and local governments. Seasonal restrictions, i.e., work windows, shall be applied to the Project to avoid or minimize potential impacts to listed or proposed species based on agreement with, and the regulatory permits issued by Department of State Lands, and USACE in consultation with NMFS. The City shall comply with all stipulations from the FAHP Biological Opinion for salmonids (i.e., using air bubble curtains). b. The City shall have an inspector onsite during construction. The role of the inspector is to ensure compliance with the construction contract and other permits and regulations. The onsite inspector shall also perform marine mammal monitoring duties when protected species observers (PSOs) are not onsite (See Proposed Monitoring section). c. To ensure no contaminants enter the water, mobile heavy equipment shall be stored in a staging area at least 150 ft from the river or in an isolated hard zone. Equipment shall be inspected daily for fluid leaks before leaving the staging area. Stationary equipment operated within 150 ft of the river shall be maintained and protected to prevent leaks and spills. Erosion and sediment control BMPs shall be installed prior to initiating and construction activities. d. All work below the Highest Mean Tide (HMT) shall be completed during the ODFW prescribed IWWP of November 1 through February 28. e. The contractor shall be responsible for the preparation of a Pollution Control Plan (PCP). The PCP shall designate a professional on-call spill response team, and identify all contractor activities, hazardous substances used, and wastes generated. The PCP shall describe how hazardous substances and wastes will be stored, used, contained, monitored, disposed of, and documented. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 (b) Pile Removal and Installation i. The following mitigation measures shall be implemented to minimize disturbance during pile removal and installation activities: a. An air bubble system shall be employed during impact installation unless the piles are driven on dry areas. b. The contractor shall implement a soft-start procedure for impact pile driving activities. The objective of a soft-start is to provide a warning and/or give animals in close proximity to pile driving a chance to leave the area prior to an impact driver operation at full capacity, thereby exposing fewer animals to loud underwater and airborne sounds. A soft-start procedure will be used at the beginning of each day that pile installation activities are conducted. For impact driving, an initial set of three strikes would be made by the hammer at 40 percent energy, followed by a one minute wait period, the two subsequent three-strike sets at 40 percent energy, with one minute waiting periods, before initiating continuous driving. c. Monitoring of marine mammals shall take place starting 30 minutes before construction begins until 30 minutes after construction ends. d. Before commencement of nonpulse (vibratory) pile removal activities, the contractor shall establish a 15 m Level A Exclusion Zone (Table 2). e. Before commencement of impact pile driving activities, the contractor shall establish a 53.4 m Level A Exclusion Zone (Table 2). f. Before commencement of abovewater construction activities, the contractor shall establish a 10 m Level A Exclusion Zone (Table 2). g. Prior to initiating in-water pile driving, pile removal, and concrete removal activities, the contractor will establish Level B ZOIs (Table 2): 1. The Level B ZOI for all pile removal activities shall be established out to a distance of 1,600 m from the pile. 2. The Level B ZOI for all pile driving activities shall be established out to a distance of 398 m from the pile. 3. The Level B ZOI during rail superstructure demolition and construction shall be established out to a distance of 28 m from the construction area. 4. If a marine mammal enters the Level B ZOI, but does not enter the Level A Exclusion Zone, a ‘‘take’’ shall be recorded and the work shall be allowed to proceed without cessation. Marine mammal behavior will be monitored and documented. 5. The City shall shut down operations if a marine mammal is PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 7697 sighted within or approaching the Level A Exclusion Zone until the marine mammal is sighted moving away from the exclusion zone, or if not sighted for 15 minutes after the shutdown. The City shall also shut down to prevent Level B takes when the take of a pinnipeds species is approaching the authorized take limits. h. If the exclusion zone is obscured by poor lighting conditions, pile driving shall not be initiated until the entire zone is visible. i. In-water work shall only commence once observers have declared the Exclusion Zone clear of marine mammals. j. A monitoring plan shall be implemented as described below. This plan includes Exclusion Zones and specific procedures in the event a marine mammal is encountered. 5. Monitoring The holder of this Authorization is required to conduct marine mammal monitoring during construction activities. (a) Protected Species Observers: The contractor shall employ qualified Protected Species Observers (PSOs) to monitor the extent of the Region of Activity for marine mammals. Qualifications for marine mammal observers include: i. Visual acuity in both eyes (correction is permissible) sufficient for discerning moving targets at the water’s surface with ability to estimate target size and distance. Use of binoculars is necessary to correctly identify the target. ii. Advanced education (at least some college level coursework) in biological science, wildlife management, mammalogy, or related fields (bachelor’s degree or higher is preferred but not required). iii. Experience or training in the field of identification of marine mammals (cetaceans and pinnipeds). iv. Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the construction operation to provide for personal safety during observations. v. Ability to communicate orally, by radio or in person, with project personnel to provide real time information on marine mammals observed in the area as necessary. vi. Experience and ability to conduct field observations and collect data according to assigned protocols (this may include academic experience). vii. Writing skills sufficient to prepare a report of observations that would include such information as the number and type of marine mammals observed; the behavior of marine mammals in the project area; dates and times when E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES 7698 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices observations were conducted; dates and times when in-water construction activities were conducted; and dates and times when marine mammals were present at or within the defined Region of Activity. ii. Monitoring Schedule: PSOs shall be present onsite during in-water construction activities as follows: i. During vibratory pile removal activities: a. Two NMFS qualified observers shall be onsite the first day of removal at each bridge, one NMFS qualified observer shall be onsite every third day thereafter. b. One PSO observer shall be stationed at the best practicable landbased vantage point to observe the downstream portion of the disturbance zone, and the other positioned at the best practicable land-based vantage point to monitor the upstream portion of the disturbance zone. c. When PSOs are not onsite, the contractor’s onsite inspector shall be trained in species identification and monitoring protocol, and shall be onsite during all pile removal activities to ensure than no species enter the 15 m Exclusion Zone. ii. During pile driving activities: a. Two NMFS qualified observers shall be onsite the first two days of pile driving at each bridge, and every third day thereafter. b. One PSO shall be stationed at the best practicable land-based vantage point to observe the downstream portion of the disturbance and exclusion zones, and the other positioned at the best practicable land-based vantage point to monitor the upstream portion of the disturbance and exclusion zones. c. When PSOs are not onsite, contractor’s onsite inspector shall be trained in species identification and monitoring protocol, and shall be onsite during all pile driving activities to ensure that no species enter the 53.4 m exclusion zone. iii. During substructure demolition activities (not including pile removal) and superstructure demolition and construction activities: a. One PSO shall be onsite once a week to monitor the Exclusion Zone within 10 m of the construction site. b. When the PSO is not onsite, contractor’s inspector shall be trained in species identification and monitoring protocol, and shall be onsite during all construction activities to ensure that no species enter the 10 m Exclusion Zone during superstructure demolition and construction activities. iii. Monitoring Protocols: PSOs shall monitor marine mammal presence within the Level A Exclusion Zone and VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 Level B ZOIs per the following protocols: i. A range finder or hand-held global positioning system device shall be used by PSOs to ensure that the defined Exclusion Zones are fully monitored and the Level B ZOIs monitored to the best extent practicable. ii. A 30-minute pre-construction marine mammal monitoring period shall be required before the first pile driving or pile removal of the day. A 30-minute post-construction marine mammal monitoring period shall be required after the last pile driving or pile removal of the day. If the contractor’s personnel take a break between subsequent pile driving or pile removal for more than 30 minutes, then additional preconstruction marine mammal monitoring shall be required before the next start-up of pile driving or pile removal. iii. If marine mammals are observed, the following information shall be documented: a. Species of observed marine mammals; b. Number of observed marine mammal individuals; c. Life stages of marine mammals observed; d. Behavioral habits, including feeding, of observed marine mammals, in both presence and absence of activities; e. Location within the Region of Activity; and f. Animals’ reaction (if any) to pile driving activities or other constructionrelated stressors including: 1. Impacts to the long-term fitness of the individual animal, if any 2. Long-term impacts to the population, species, or stock (e.g., through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival), if any g. Overall effectiveness of mitigation measures. iv. During vibratory rule removal and impact driving, qualified PSOs shall monitor the Level B ZOIs from the best practicable land-based vantage point to observe the downstream and upstream portions of the disturbance zone according to the above schedule. v. PSOs shall use binoculars to monitor the Region of Activity. 6. Reporting The holder of this Authorization is required to: (a) Submit a draft report on all monitoring conducted under the IHA within 90 calendar days of the completion of construction work. This report must contain the informational elements described in the Monitoring Plan, at minimum, and shall also include: PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 i. Detailed information about any implementation of shutdowns, including the distance of animals to the pile and description of specific actions that ensued and resulting behavior of the animal, if any. (b) If comments are received from the NMFS West Coast Regional Administrator or NMFS Office of Protected Resources on the draft report, a final report shall be submitted to NMFS within 30 days thereafter. If no comments are received from NMFS, the draft report will be considered to be the final report. (c) Reporting injured or dead marine mammals: i. In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by this IHA, such as an injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or mortality, the City shall immediately cease the specified activities and report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources (301–427– 8401), NMFS, and the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator (206– 526–4747), NMFS. The report must include the following information: i. Time and date of the incident; ii. Description of the incident; iii. Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility); iv. Description of all marine mammal observations and active sound source use in the 24 hours preceding the incident; v. Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved; vi. Fate of the animal(s); and vii. Photographs or video footage of the animal(s). Activities shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS will work with the City to determine what measures are necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. The City may not resume their activities until notified by NMFS. ii. In the event that the City discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead observer determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (e.g., in less than a moderate state of decomposition), the City shall immediately report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS. The report must include the same information identified in 6(b)(i) of this IHA. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with the City E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 36 / Thursday, February 22, 2018 / Notices to determine whether additional mitigation measures or modifications to the activities are appropriate. iii. In the event that the City discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead observer determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), the City shall report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS, within 24 hours of the discovery. The City shall provide photographs or video footage or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS. This Authorization may be modified, suspended or withdrawn if the holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein, or if NMFS determines the authorized taking is having more than a negligible impact on 7699 the species or stock of affected marine mammals. TABLE 1—AUTHORIZED TAKE NUMBERS, BY SPECIES Species Authorized take Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) ..... California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) ......................... Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) ................................. 108 2,604 3,284 TABLE 2—MINIMUM RADIAL DISTANCE TO SHUTDOWN ZONES Activity Level B Zone of Influence Vibratory pile removal .................................................................................................... Impact pile driving .......................................................................................................... Roadway and railway demolition and construction ........................................................ 1,600 m ..................................................... 398 m ........................................................ 28 m (harbor seals) 9 m (sea lions) ......... daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES Request for Public Comments We request comment on our analyses, the proposed authorization, and any other aspect of this Notice of Proposed IHA for the proposed bridge replacement project. We also request comment on the potential for renewal of this proposed IHA as described in the paragraph below. Please include with your comments any supporting data or literature citations to help inform our final decision on the request for MMPA authorization. On a case-by-case basis, NMFS may issue a second one-year IHA without additional notice when (1) another year of identical or nearly identical activities as described in the Specified Activities section is planned or (2) the activities would not be completed by the time the IHA expires and a second IHA would allow for completion of the activities beyond that described in the Dates and Duration section, provided all of the following conditions are met: • A request for renewal is received no later than 60 days prior to expiration of the current IHA. • The request for renewal must include the following: (1) An explanation that the activities to be conducted beyond the initial dates either are identical to the previously analyzed activities or include changes so minor (e.g., reduction in pile size) that the changes do not affect the previous analyses, take estimates, or mitigation and monitoring requirements. (2) A preliminary monitoring report showing the results of the required monitoring to date and an explanation showing that the monitoring results do VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Feb 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 not indicate impacts of a scale or nature not previously analyzed or authorized. • Upon review of the request for renewal, the status of the affected species or stocks, and any other pertinent information, NMFS determines that there are no more than minor changes in the activities, the mitigation and monitoring measures remain the same and appropriate, and the original findings remain valid. Dated: February 16, 2018. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2018–03615 Filed 2–21–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XG012 Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Gull and Climate Monitoring/Research in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for Letter of Authorization; request for comments and information. AGENCY: NMFS has received a request from the National Park Service (NPS) for authorization to take small numbers of marine mammals incidental to glaucous-winged gull and climate SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Level A Exclusion Zone 15 m. 53.4 m. 10 m. monitoring/research in Glacier Bay National Park (GLBA NP), Alaska over the course of five years from the date of issuance. Pursuant to regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is announcing receipt of the NPS’ request for the development and implementation of regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals. NMFS invites the public to provide information, suggestions, and comments on the NPS’ application and request. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than March 26, 2018. ADDRESSES: Comments on the applications should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should be sent to 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and electronic comments should be sent to ITP.molineaux@noaa.gov. Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. Comments received electronically, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25megabyte file size. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel or Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ national/marine-mammal-protection/ incidental-take-authorizations-research- E:\FR\FM\22FEN1.SGM 22FEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 36 (Thursday, February 22, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 7680-7699]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-03615]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XF882


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Astoria Waterfront Bridge 
Replacement Project

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request 
for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS has received a request from the City of Astoria for 
authorization to take marine mammals incidental to pile driving and 
construction work during the Waterfront Bridge Replacement Project in 
Astoria, Oregon. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), 
NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an incidental 
harassment authorization (IHA) to incidentally take marine mammals 
during the specified activities.

DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than March 
26, 2018.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, 
Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should be sent to 
1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and electronic comments 
should be sent to [email protected].
    Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any 
other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the 
end of the comment period. Comments received electronically, including 
all attachments, must not exceed a 25-megabyte file size. Attachments 
to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel or 
Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-construction-activities without change. All 
personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily 
submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit 
confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected 
information.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amy Fowler, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401. Electronic copies of the application 
and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in 
this document, may be obtained online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-construction-activities. In case of problems 
accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) 
direct the Secretary of Commerce (as delegated to NMFS) to allow, upon 
request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers 
of marine mammals by

[[Page 7681]]

U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial 
fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are 
made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to 
harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the 
public for review.
    An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS 
finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or 
stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where 
relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements 
pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings 
are set forth.
    NMFS has defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 as ``. . . 
an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be 
reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely 
affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of 
recruitment or survival.''
    The MMPA states that the term ``take'' means to harass, hunt, 
capture, kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine 
mammal. Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, 
the MMPA defines ``harassment'' as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or 
annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or 
marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) has the 
potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild 
by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not 
limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or 
sheltering (Level B harassment).

National Environmental Policy Act

    To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 
42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216-6A, 
NMFS must review our proposed action (i.e., the issuance of an 
incidental harassment authorization) with respect to potential impacts 
on the human environment.
    This action is consistent with categories of activities identified 
in CE B4 of the Companion Manual for NOAA Administrative Order 216-6A, 
which do not individually or cumulatively have the potential for 
significant impacts on the quality of the human environment and for 
which we have not identified any extraordinary circumstances that would 
preclude this categorical exclusion. Accordingly, NMFS has 
preliminarily determined that the issuance of the proposed IHA 
qualifies to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review.
    We will review all comments submitted in response to this notice 
prior to concluding our NEPA process or making a final decision on the 
IHA request.

Summary of Request

    On October 17, 2017, NMFS received a request from the City of 
Astoria (City) for an IHA to take marine mammals incidental to 
replacement of bridges in downtown Astoria along the Columbia River. 
The application was considered adequate and complete on January 17, 
2018. The City's request is for take of California sea lions (Zalophus 
californianus), Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus), and harbor 
seals (Phoca vitulina richardii) by Level B harassment only. Neither 
the City nor NMFS expect mortality to result from this activity and, 
therefore, an IHA is appropriate.

Description of Proposed Activity

Overview

    The City is seeking an IHA for the first year of a two-year project 
to remove and replace piles supporting six waterfront bridges in 
Astoria, Oregon. Phase I of the project, which would occur under this 
IHA, involves the removal and replacement of three bridges connecting 
7th, 9th, and 11th Streets to waterfront piers. The bridges are 
currently supported by decayed timber piles and concrete footings that 
will be removed and replaced with steel piles. Roadway construction, 
timber pile removal, and steel pile driving are expected to result in 
Level B auditory harassment of California sea lions, harbor seals, and 
Steller sea lions.
    The proposed project would occur along the Lower Columbia River. 
The action area is not expected to exceed 1,600 meters (m) beyond each 
bridge site. Construction for Phase I of the project, removing and 
replacing the 7th, 9th, and 11th Street bridge crossings, is expected 
to occur between October 2018 and April 2019.

Dates and Duration

    Project work is expected to begin in October 2018 with roadway and 
rail superstructure removal. Timber pile removal and steel pile 
installation will occur within the Oregon Department of Fish and 
Wildlife (ODFW) prescribed in-water work period (IWWP) for the Lower 
Columbia River (November 1 through February 28). Timber pile and 
concrete foundation removal will be initiated at the onset of the IWWP. 
These activities will likely occur over the entire IWWP, or 80 work 
days. Vibratory timber pile removal is expected to take approximately 
26 days and impact hammer pile installation will take approximately 42 
days. The remaining 12 days in the IWWP will be used to remove all 
concrete footings and a concrete retaining wall. The contractor will 
likely remove existing structures concurrent with construction of new 
foundations. Pile removal and installation will occur over an eight 
hour period each day.
    Additional above-water construction may be completed between March 
2019 and August 2019. Rail superstructure construction is expected to 
occur over 13 work days between March 1 and April 11. Construction of 
approach superstructure and roadway improvements will be conducted 
between April and August 2019. An offsite storm water facility will be 
constructed during the summer of 2019.

Specific Geographic Region

    The project site is located in the Baker Bay-Columbia River 
subwatershed. This section of the Columbia River represents the most 
saline portion of the river's estuarine environment. Tidal influence 
extends 146 miles upriver to the Bonneville Dam. The Columbia River is 
over nine miles wide in the area around Astoria and contains multiple 
islands, buoys, and sandbars that marine mammals utilize to haul out. 
The upland portions of the region of activity have been highly altered 
by human activities, with substantial shoreline development and 
remnants of historical development. This includes thousands of timber 
piles, overwater buildings, a railroad trestle, and vehicular bridges. 
The downtown Astoria waterfront is a busy area for pedestrians, 
vehicles, and boats. In addition to onshore development, the Lower 
Columbia River is utilized by various types of vessels, including cargo 
ships, dredging vessels, fishing vessels, trawlers, pollution control 
vessels, and search and rescue vessels, among others.
    The remainder of the region of activity is located within the river 
channel within the intertidal and subtidal zones. The substrate in this 
area is primarily made up of historical rip rap and other rocks/
cobbles. All in-water construction will occur in the intertidal and 
subtidal zones. Some piles may be removed and installed completely in 
the dry while others may remain inundated in water over 75 percent of 
the time. Section 1 of the application describes the tidal conditions 
of each crossing in detail.

[[Page 7682]]

Detailed Description of Specific Activity

    Phase I of the project involves the removal and replacement of 
three bridges connecting 7th, 9th, and 11th Streets to waterfront 
piers. Each bridge has pedestrian and vehicle access. A railroad 
trestle runs parallel to the shoreline between the bridges along the 
waterfront. Demolition of the existing bridge crossings will require 
the removal of bridge decks and other aboveground components for the 
rail trestle and roadway approaches. Demolition of the superstructures 
will likely be accomplished using standard roadway and bridge 
construction equipment. The existing bridge crossings are primarily 
founded on a timber substructure. All timber elements supporting the 
roadway approach and trestle crossing will be removed. Most of the 
structures are below the Mean High Water (MHW) elevation; the remaining 
timber elements are below the Mean Higher-High Water (MHHW) or the 
Highest Measured Tide (HMT) elevation, with only a few piles being 
removed landward of the HMT elevation. Each bridge contains 85 timber 
structures to be removed. Most timber piles are 12 inches (in) diameter 
but some may be up to 14 in. The contractor will use a vibratory hammer 
or direct pull to remove the timber piles. In addition to timber 
structures, each bridge is supported by concrete footings ranging in 
size from 16 in by 16 in to 12 feet (ft) by 3 ft. Seven concrete 
structures will be removed from the 7th Street crossing, four from the 
9th Street crossing, and eight from the 11th Street crossing (Table 1). 
A concrete retaining wall at the 9th Street crossing will also be 
removed to facilitate construction of the new roadway approach. The 
wall is located below the HMT elevation and is frequently exposed to 
surface flows. The contractor will use a concrete saw to cut the 
retaining wall into manageable pieces.
    Abutment wingwalls will be constructed at the 9th Street crossing 
to help contain the roadway approach fill. The wingwalls will be cast-
in-place concrete retaining walls. The eastern retaining wall will be 
located above the HMT and the western wall will be above the MHHW. As a 
result, the work will be completed in the dry; however, the contractor 
will install measures when necessary to isolate the work area.
    Most of the piles to be installed are within 40 ft of the existing 
abutments, so the piles will be installed from a crane staged on the 
south side of the bridges. However, piling at the 9th Street crossing 
is up to 60 ft from the south abutment. The size and length of the 
piling as well as the weight of the pile hammer and leads places 
additional demand on the supporting crane. As a result, the contractor 
will construct temporary shoring consisting of two bents comprised of 
five 16-in piles each for a total of ten piles. Both bents will be 
located within two ft of the MLW elevation. Therefore, all piles are 
likely to be inundated by water levels greater than 2 ft deep at least 
75 percent of the time during installation and extraction. Construction 
of the work platform will be initiated following removal of the 
superstructures, retaining wall, and approach fill at the 9th Street 
crossing. Due to the soft soils, it is anticipated that each pile 
installed will advance predominately under its own weight with a 
limited number of impact hammer strikes prior to reaching the bedrock 
surface. To finish pile installation, the contractor will be required 
to use an impact hammer to secure the piles into the bedrock and verify 
the required bearing resistances. All temporary pilings will be 
installed and removed during the ODFW prescribed IWWP and will remain 
in place for only one construction season.
    A total of 74 24-in diameter permanent steel piles are expected to 
be driven for Phase I of this project (21 at the 7th Street crossing, 
25 at the 9th Street crossing, and 28 at the 11th Street crossing, 
Table 1). As with the temporary shoring, it is expected that the 
permanent piles will advance under their own weight with a limited 
number of hammer strikes before reaching the bedrock surface.

                                 Table 1--Structures To Be Removed and Installed
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     Concrete
                            Structure                              Timber piles   footings to be  Steel piles to
                                                                   to be removed      removed      be installed
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
7th Street......................................................              85               7              21
9th Street......................................................              85               4              25
11th Street.....................................................              85               8              28
Temporary shoring (9th St. only)................................  ..............  ..............              10
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The IWWP prescribed by ODFW includes 80 work days. Construction 
work is assumed to occur over an eight hour period each day. It is 
assumed that the contractor will drive the first 40 ft of piling for 
each pile location (each pile location consists of two 40-foot pile 
sections) over the first few days of pile driving, then splice on the 
additional 40 ft of piling at each location over the next few days. 
After the first 40-ft pile section is driven, a backer bar is tack 
welded on to the first pile section, then the second pile section is 
aligned with a crane, and welded on. Once all of the piles are spliced, 
the contractor will resume pile driving activities to set each pile to 
the desired depth. It is estimated that the contractor can install four 
40-foot piles a day at an estimated 250 strikes per pile. With a total 
of 84 piles to be driven (74 permanent and 10 temporary), given the 
rate of four 40-ft piles per day, impact pile driving will take 42 days 
with a total of 1000 strikes per day (Table 2). This would leave 38 
work days for the removal of existing timber piling and concrete 
substructures. The contractor will attempt to extract the existing 
piles via direct pull or vibratory hammer. Vibratory removal of timber 
piles will take approximately 30 minutes per pile. A total of 255 
timber piles are anticipated to be extracted. At an average of 10 piles 
removed per day, existing timber pile removal is expected to take 26 
days (Table 2) which leaves 12 days remaining in the work period to 
cover the removal of all concrete footings and the 9th Street retaining 
wall. It is anticipated that the contractor will be removing existing 
substructure elements concurrent with the construction of the new 
foundations.

[[Page 7683]]



                                     Table 2--Pile Driving Estimates per Day
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                     Number of
                                    Number           Method        Piles per day  Number of days    strikes per
                                                                                        \1\             day
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Timber Piles to be Removed....             255  Vibratory Hammer              10              26             N/A
                                                 and Direct Pull.
24'' Steel Piles to be                      74  Impact Hammer...               4              37            1000
 Installed.
16'' Steel Piles to be                      10  Impact Hammer...               4               5            1000
 Installed.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ It is assumed that the contractor will drive the first 40 ft of piling on one day, then splice on the
  additional 40 ft of piling and resume pile driving on another day, totaling two days required to drive all 80
  ft of pile, hence double the amount of days than piles.

    The construction activities that could potentially result in 
acoustic and visual disturbance to pinnipeds within the action area 
include rail and roadway superstructure and concrete foundation removal 
activities, temporary work platform construction, piling installation, 
wingwall construction, and construction of the new rail and roadway 
superstructures. Most of these activities will require work in water 
during the IWWP (November 1 through February 28). Sound from pile 
removal and installation will likely extend out into the river channel 
where California sea lions, Steller sea lions, and harbor seals may be 
transiting. Work occurring in-air includes the removal of bridge decks 
and other aboveground components for the rail trestle crossings and 
roadway approaches as well as construction of the new rail 
superstructures and roadway improvements, which occurs directly above 
the river banks where hauled out California sea lions may be located. 
California sea lions may be harassed by the presence of construction 
equipment during above-water construction.
    Proposed mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures are 
described in detail later in this document (please see ``Proposed 
Mitigation'' and ``Proposed Monitoring and Reporting'').

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities

    Sections 3 and 4 of the application summarize available information 
regarding status and trends, distribution and habitat preferences, and 
behavior and life history, of the potentially affected species. 
Additional information regarding population trends and threats may be 
found in NMFS's Stock Assessment Reports (SAR; https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/population-assessments/marine-mammals) and 
more general information about these species (e.g., physical and 
behavioral descriptions) may be found on NMFS's website (https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/find-species).
    Table 3 lists all species with expected potential for occurrence in 
Astoria and summarizes information related to the population or stock, 
including regulatory status under the MMPA and ESA and potential 
biological removal (PBR), where known. For taxonomy, we follow 
Committee on Taxonomy (2016). PBR is defined by the MMPA as the maximum 
number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be 
removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach 
or maintain its optimum sustainable population (as described in NMFS's 
SARs). While no mortality is anticipated or authorized here, PBR and 
annual serious injury and mortality from anthropogenic sources are 
included here as gross indicators of the status of the species and 
other threats.
    Marine mammal abundance estimates presented in this document 
represent the total number of individuals that make up a given stock or 
the total number estimated within a particular study or survey area. 
NMFS's stock abundance estimates for most species represent the total 
estimate of individuals within the geographic area, if known, that 
comprises that stock. For some species, this geographic area may extend 
beyond U.S. waters. All managed stocks in this region are assessed in 
NMFS's U.S. 2016 SARs (e.g., Caretta et al. 2017). All values presented 
in Table 3 are the most recent available at the time of publication and 
are available in the 2016 SARs (Caretta et al. 2017, Muto et al., 
2017).

                                         Table 3--Marine Mammals Potentially Present in the Vicinity of Astoria
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                              Stock abundance
                                                                          ESA/MMPA status;    (CV, Nmin, most                              Relative
          Common name              Scientific name          Stock         strategic (Y/N)    recent abundance      PBR     Annual M/    occurrence near
                                                                                \1\             survey) \2\                  SI \3\         Astoria
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                         Order Carnivora--Superfamily Pinnipedia
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      Family Otariidae (eared seals and sea lions)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
California sea lion............  Zalophus            U.S...............  -; N               296,750 (N/A,           9,200        389  Likely.
                                  californianus.                                             153,337, 2011).
Steller sea lion...............  Eumetopias jubatus  Eastern U.S.......  -; N               41,638 (N/A,            2,498        108  Likely.
                                                                                             41,638, 2015).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             Family Phocidae (earless seals)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific harbor seal............  Phoca vitulina      Oregon/Washington   -; N               Unknown (0.12,         undet.       10.6  Likely.
                                  richardii.          Coast.                                 24,732, 1999).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Endangered Species Act (ESA) status: Endangered (E), Threatened (T)/MMPA status: Depleted (D). A dash (-) indicates that the species is not listed
  under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. Under the MMPA, a strategic stock is one for which the level of direct human-caused mortality
  exceeds PBR or which is determined to be declining and likely to be listed under the ESA within the foreseeable future. Any species or stock listed
  under the ESA is automatically designated under the MMPA as depleted and as a strategic stock.

[[Page 7684]]

 
\2\ NMFS marine mammal stock assessment reports online at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/. CV is coefficient of variation; Nmin is the minimum estimate of
  stock abundance. In some cases, CV is not applicable. For certain stocks, abundance estimates are actual counts of animals and there is no associated
  CV.
\3\ These values, found in NMFS's SARs, represent annual levels of human-caused mortality plus serious injury from all sources combined (e.g.,
  commercial fisheries, ship strike). Annual M/SI often cannot be determined precisely and is in some cases presented as a minimum value or range. A CV
  associated with estimated mortality due to commercial fisheries is presented in some cases.

    All species that could potentially occur in the proposed survey 
areas are included in Table 3. As described below, all three species 
temporally and spatially co-occur with the activity to the degree that 
take is reasonably likely to occur, and we have proposed authorizing 
it.

California Sea Lion

    California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are distributed along 
the North Pacific waters from central Mexico to southeast Alaska, with 
breeding areas restricted primarily to island areas off southern 
California (the Channel Islands), Baja California, and in the Gulf of 
California (Wright et al., 2010). California sea lions are dark brown 
with broad fore flippers and a long, narrow snout. There are five 
genetically distinct geographic populations. The population seen in 
Oregon is the Pacific Temperate stock, which are commonly seen in 
Oregon from September through May (ODFW 2015). The approximate growth 
rate for this species is 5.4 percent annually (Caretta et al., 2004). 
Threats to this species include incidental catch and entanglement in 
fishing gear, such as gillnets; biotoxins, as a result of harmful algal 
blooms; and gunshot wounds and other human-caused injuries, as 
California sea lions are sometimes viewed as a nuisance by commercial 
fishermen (NOAA 2016).
    Almost all California sea lions in the Pacific Northwest are sub-
adult or adult males (NOAA 2008). California sea lions feed in both the 
Columbia River and adjacent nearshore marine areas. Their population is 
lowest in Oregon in the summer months, from May to September, as they 
migrate south to the Channel Islands in California to breed. California 
sea lions have been observed near several crossings within the Project 
site; however, this is not their main haul out. Their main haul out is 
the East Mooring Basin, which is located over one mile upstream, 
outside of the Region of Activity. Construction activities are proposed 
between October and April, which includes the tail end of peak usage of 
the lower river by California sea lions. Counts of California sea lions 
are highest in September but taper off until March when the sea lions 
travel south past Oregon toward their breeding sites (Brown et al., 
2015). Recent years have shown an increase in the record numbers of 
California sea lions at the East Mooring Basin with a 2015 spring 
record of 2,340 individuals (up from 1,420 in 2014), though in past 
years, typical spring counts were closer to 100-300 individuals 
(Profita 2015). Changes in climate, food sources, and a growing 
population approaching 300,000 are all cited as possible reasons for 
these increases. Counts of California sea lions at the South Jetty 
haulout at the mouth of the Columbia River (10 miles downstream of 
project site) date back to 1995 (ODFW 2007) but more reliable monthly 
counts from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) are 
available from 2000-2014 (WDFW 2014).

Harbor Seal

    The Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii) is the most 
widespread and abundant resident pinniped in Oregon. They are generally 
blue-gray with light and dark speckling; they lack external ear flaps 
and have short forelimbs. Harbor seals are generally non-migratory and 
occur on both the U.S. east and west coasts. On the west coast they 
range from Alaska to Baja California, Mexico (ODFW 2015).
    The Oregon/Washington Coast stock abundance was estimated in 1999 
to be 24,732. However, the data used to establish that abundance was 
eight years old at the time and no more recent stock abundance 
estimates exist (Caretta et al., 2017). The 1999 abundance estimate 
will be used for the purposes of this analysis. The Oregon/Washington 
Coast stock of Pacific harbor seals is not listed under the ESA nor are 
they considered depleted or strategic under the MMPA.
    Harbor seals utilize specific shoreline locations on a regular 
basis as haulouts including beaches, rocks, floats, and buoys. They 
must rest at haulout locations to regulate body temperature, interact 
with one another, and sleep (NOAA 2016). Harbor seals are present 
throughout the year at the mouth of the Columbia River and adjacent 
nearshore marine areas. Harbor seals are an infrequent visitor at the 
Astoria Mooring Basin, but they are known to transit through the Region 
of Activity. Their closest haulout and pupping area is Desdemona Sands 
which is downstream of the Astoria-Megler Bridge and outside the Region 
of Activity. Pupping occurs from Mid-April to July, outside of the 
proposed project work period (Susan Riemer, pers. comm., 2016). Due to 
their year-round occurrence in the Columbia River, harbor seals are 
likely to be found transiting the area during in-water construction.

Steller Sea Lion

    The Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) range extends along the 
Pacific Rim, from northern Japan to central California. For management 
purposes, Steller sea lions inhabiting U.S. waters have been divided 
into two DPS: The Western U.S. and the Eastern U.S. The population 
known to occur within the Lower Columbia River is the Eastern DPS. The 
Western U.S. stock of Steller sea lions are listed as endangered under 
the ESA and depleted and strategic under the MMPA. The Eastern U.S. 
stock (including those living in Oregon) was de-listed in 2013 
following a population growth from 18,000 in 1979 to 70,000 in 2010 (an 
estimated annual growth of 4.18 percent) (NOAA 2013). The current 
abundance estimate for the Eastern U.S. stock is 41,638 (Muto et al., 
2017). Threats to Steller sea lions include: Boat/ship strikes, 
contaminants/pollutants, habitat degradation, illegal hunting/shooting, 
offshore oil and gas exploration, and interactions (direct and 
indirect) with fisheries (NOAA 2016). Critical habitat was designated 
for Steller sea lions on August 27, 1993 (58 FR 45269), but is not 
present within the Region of Activity. Critical habitat is associated 
with specific breeding and haulout sites in Alaska, California, and 
Oregon (NOAA 2016).
    Steller sea lions are present year-round at the mouth of the 
Columbia River, with the primary haulout point on the top South Jetty 
(approximately 10 miles downstream of the action area) and they are at 
their peak in the lower river from September through March. The South 
Jetty haulout is the only artificial structure Steller sea lions 
regularly use along the Oregon coast. Steller sea lions feed in both 
the Columbia River and adjacent nearshore marine areas. Due to their 
year-round presence and peak of presence during the winter months, 
Steller sea lions are likely to be transiting the area during in-water 
construction activities.

[[Page 7685]]

Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their 
Habitat

    This section includes a summary and discussion of the ways that 
components of the specified activity may impact marine mammals and 
their habitat. The Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment section 
later in this document includes a quantitative analysis of the number 
of individuals that are expected to be taken by this activity. The 
Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination section considers the 
content of this section, the Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment 
section, and the Proposed Mitigation section, to draw conclusions 
regarding the likely impacts of these activities on the reproductive 
success or survivorship of individuals and how those impacts on 
individuals are likely to impact marine mammal species or stocks.

Description of Sound Sources

    Sound travels in waves, the basic components of which are 
frequency, wavelength, velocity, and amplitude. Frequency is the number 
of pressure waves that pass by a reference point per unit of time and 
is measured in hertz (Hz) or cycles per second. Wavelength is the 
distance between two peaks of a sound wave; lower frequency sounds have 
longer wavelengths than higher frequency sounds. Amplitude is the 
height of the sound pressure wave or the `loudness' of a sound and is 
typically measured using the decibel (dB) scale. A dB is the ratio 
between a measured pressure (with sound) and a reference pressure 
(sound at a constant pressure, established by scientific standards). It 
is a logarithmic unit that accounts for large variations in amplitude; 
therefore, relatively small changes in dB ratings correspond to large 
changes in sound pressure. When referring to sound pressure levels 
(SPLs; the sound force per unit area), sound is referenced in the 
context of underwater sound pressure to 1 microPascal ([micro]Pa). One 
Pascal is the pressure resulting from a force of one Newton exerted 
over an area of one square meter. The source level (SL) represents the 
sound level at a distance of 1 m from the source (referenced to 1 
[micro]Pa). The received level is the sound level at the listener's 
position. Note that all underwater sound levels in the document are 
referenced to a pressure of 1 [micro]Pa and all airborne sound levels 
in this document are referenced to a pressure of 20 [micro]Pa.
    Root mean square (rms) is the quadratic mean sound pressure over 
the duration of an impulse. Rms is calculated by squaring all of the 
sound amplitudes, averaging the squares, and then taking the square 
root of the average (Urick 1983). Rms accounts for both positive and 
negative values; squaring the pressures makes all values positive so 
that they may be accounted for in the summation of pressure levels 
(Hastings and Popper, 2005). This measurement is often used in the 
context of discussing behavioral effects, in part because behavioral 
effects, which often result from auditory cues, may be better expressed 
through averaged units than by peak pressures.
    When underwater objects vibrate or activity occurs, sound-pressure 
waves are created. These waves alternately compress and decompress the 
water as the sound wave travels. Underwater sound waves radiate in all 
directions away from the source (similar to ripples on the surface of a 
pond), except in cases where the source is directional. The 
compressions and decompressions associated with sound waves are 
detected as changes in pressure by aquatic life and man-made sound 
receptors such as hydrophones.
    Even in the absence of sound from the specified activity, the 
underwater environment is typically loud due to ambient sound. Ambient 
sound is defined as environmental background sound levels lacking a 
single source or point (Richardson et al., 1995), and the sound level 
of a region is defined by the total acoustical energy being generated 
by known and unknown sources. These sources may include physical (e.g., 
waves, earthquakes, ice, atmospheric sound), biological (e.g., sounds 
produced by marine mammals, fish, and invertebrates), and anthropogenic 
sound (e.g., vessels, dredging, aircraft, construction). A number of 
sources contributed to ambient sound, including the following 
(Richardson et al., 1995):
     Wind and waves: The complex interactions between wind and 
water surface, including processes such as breaking waves and wave-
induced bubble oscillations and cavitation, are a main source of 
naturally occurring ambient noise for frequencies between 200 Hz and 50 
kilohertz (kHz) (Mitson, 1995). In general, ambient sound levels tend 
to increase with increasing wind speed and wave height. Surf noise 
becomes important near shore, with measurements collected at a distance 
of 8.5 km from shore showing an increase of 10 dB in the 100 to 700 Hz 
band during heavy surf conditions.
     Precipitation: Sound from rain and hail impacting the 
water surface can become an important component of total noise 
frequencies above 500 Hz, and possibly down to 100 Hz during quiet 
times.
     Biological: Marine mammals can contribute significantly to 
ambient noise levels, as can some fish and shrimp. The frequency band 
for biological contributions is from approximately 12 Hz to over 100 
kHz.
     Anthropogenic: Sources of ambient noise related to human 
activity include transportation (surface vessels and aircraft), 
dredging and construction, oil and gas drilling and production, seismic 
surveys, sonar, explosions, and ocean acoustic studies. Shipping noise 
typically dominates the total ambient noise for frequencies between 20 
and 300 Hz. In general, the frequencies of anthropogenic sounds are 
below 1 kHz and, if higher frequency sound levels are created, they 
attenuate rapidly (Richardson et al., 1995). Sound from identifiable 
anthropogenic sources other than the activity of interest (e.g., a 
passing vessel) is sometimes termed background sound, as opposed to 
ambient sound. Representative levels of anthropogenic sound are 
displayed in Table 4.

      Table 4--Representative Sound Levels of Anthropogenic Sources
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Underwater sound
          Sound source                   level             Reference
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vibratory removal of 12-in        150 dB rms at 16 m  Laughlin 2011a.
 timber pile.
Impact driving of 24-in steel     184 dB rms at 10 m  WSDOT 2016; Reyff
 pipe pile.                                            2007.
Concrete saw....................  93 dB rms at 20     Hanan and
                                   m\1\.               Associates 2014.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Airborne sound only (dB rms re 20 [mu]Pa).

    The sum of the various natural and anthropogenic sound sources at 
any given location and time--which comprise ``ambient'' or 
``background'' sound--depends not only on the source levels (as 
determined by current weather conditions and levels of biological and 
shipping activity) but also on the ability of sound to propagate

[[Page 7686]]

through the environment. In turn, sound propagation is dependent on the 
spatially and temporally varying properties of the water column and sea 
floor, and is frequency-dependent. As a result of the dependence on a 
large number of varying factors, ambient sound levels can be expected 
to vary widely over both coarse and fine spatial and temporal scales. 
Sound levels at a given frequency and location can vary by 10-20 dB 
from day to day (Richardson et al., 1995). The result is that, 
depending on the source type and its intensity, sound from the 
specified activity may be a negligible addition to the local 
environment or could form a distinctive signal that may affect marine 
mammals.
    In-water construction activities associated with the Project 
include impact pile driving and vibratory pile removal. The sounds 
produced by these activities fall into one of two general sound types: 
pulsed and non-pulsed (defined in the following). The distinction 
between these two sound types is important because they have differing 
potential to cause physical effects, particularly with regard to 
hearing (e.g., Ward 1997 in Southall et al., 2007). Please see Southall 
et al., (2007) for an in-depth discussion of these concepts.
    Pulsed sound sources (e.g., impact pile driving) product signals 
that are brief (typically considered to be less than one second), 
broadband, atonal transients (ANSI 1986; Harris 1998; NIOSH 1998; ISO 
2003; ANSI 2005) and occur either as isolated events or repeated in 
some succession. Pulsed sounds are all characterized by a relatively 
rapid rise from ambient pressure to a maximal pressure value followed 
by a rapid decay period that may include a period of diminishing, 
oscillating maximal and minimal pressures, and generally have an 
increased capacity to induce physical injury as compared with sounds 
that lack these features.
    Non-pulsed sounds can be tonal, narrowband or broadband, brief or 
prolonged, and may be wither continuous or non-continuous (ANSI 1995; 
NIOSH 1998). Some of these non-pulsed sounds can be transient signals 
of short duration without the essential properties of pulses (e.g., 
rapid rise time). Examples of non-pulsed sounds include those produced 
by vessels, aircraft, machinery operations such as drilling or 
dredging, vibratory pile driving, and active sonar systems (such as 
those used by the U.S. Navy). The duration of such sounds, as received 
at a distance, can be greatly extended in a highly reverberant 
environment.
    Impact hammers operate by repeatedly dropping a heavy piston onto a 
pile to drive the pile into the substrate. Sound generated by impact 
hammers is characterized by rapid rise times and high peak levels, a 
potentially injurious combination (Hastings and Popper 2005). Vibratory 
hammers install piles by vibrating them and allowing the weight of the 
hammer to push them into the sediment. Vibratory hammers produce 
significantly less sound than impact hammers. Peak SPLs may be 180 dB 
or greater, but are generally 10 to 20 dB lower than SPLs generated 
during impact pile driving of the same-sized pile (Oestman et al., 
2005).

Marine Mammal Hearing

    Hearing is the most important sensory modality for marine mammals 
underwater, and exposure to anthropogenic sound can have deleterious 
effects. To appropriately assess the potential effects of exposure to 
sound, it is necessary to understand the frequency ranges marine 
mammals are able to hear. Current data indicate that not all marine 
mammal species have equal hearing capabilities (e.g., Richardson et 
al., 1995; Wartzok and Ketten, 1999; Au and Hastings, 2008). To reflect 
this, Southall et al. (2007) recommended that marine mammals be divided 
into functional hearing groups based on directly measured or estimated 
hearing ranges on the basis of available behavioral response data, 
audiograms derived using auditory evoked potential techniques, 
anatomical modeling, and other data. Note that no direct measurements 
of hearing ability have been successfully completed for mysticetes 
(i.e., low-frequency cetaceans). Subsequently, NMFS (2016) described 
generalized hearing ranges for these marine mammal hearing groups. 
Generalized hearing ranges were chosen based on the approximately 65 dB 
threshold from the normalized composite audiograms, with the exception 
for lower limits for low-frequency cetaceans where the lower bound was 
deemed to be biologically implausible and the lower bound from Southall 
et al. (2007) retained. The functional groups and the associated 
frequencies are indicated below in Table 5 (note that these frequency 
ranges correspond to the range for the composite group, with the entire 
range not necessarily reflecting the capabilities of every species 
within that group).

   Table 5--Marine Mammal Hearing Groups and Their Generalized Hearing
                                  Range
------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Hearing group                 Generalized hearing range *
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-frequency (LF) cetaceans (baleen        7 Hz to 35 kHz.
 whales).
Mid-frequency (MF) cetaceans (dolphins,     150 Hz to 160 kHz.
 toothed whales, beaked whales, bottlenose
 whales).
High-frequency (HF) cetaceans (true         275 Hz to 160 kHz.
 porpoises, Kogia, river dolphins,
 cephalorhynchid, Lagenorhynchus cruciger
 and L. australis).
Phocid pinnipeds (PW) (underwater) (true    50 Hz to 86 kHz.
 seals).
Otariid pinnipeds (OW) (underwater) (sea    60 Hz to 39 kHz.
 lions and fur seals).
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Represents the generalized hearing range for the entire group as a
  composite (i.e., all species within the group), where individual
  species' hearing ranges are typically not as broad. Generalized
  hearing range chosen based on ~65 dB threshold from normalized
  composite audiogram, with the exception for lower limits for LF
  cetaceans (Southall et al., 2007) and PW pinniped (approximation).

    The pinniped functional hearing group was modified from Southall et 
al. (2007) on the basis of data indicating that phocid species have 
consistently demonstrated an extended frequency range of hearing 
compared to otariids, especially in the higher frequency range 
(Hemil[auml] et al., 2006; Kastelein et al., 2009; Reichmuth and Holt, 
2013).
    For more detail concerning these groups and associated frequency 
ranges, please see NMFS (2016) for a review of available information. 
As mentioned previously in this document, three marine mammal species 
(zero cetacean and three pinniped (two otariid and one phocid) species) 
have the reasonable potential to co-occur with the proposed activities 
(Table 3). Harbor seals are classified as members of the phocid 
pinnipeds in water functional hearing group, while Steller and 
California sea lions are grouped under the otariid

[[Page 7687]]

pinnipeds in water functional hearing group. A species' functional 
hearing group is a consideration when we analyze the effects of 
exposure to sound on marine mammals.

Acoustic Impacts

    Please refer to the information given previously (Description of 
Sound Sources) regarding sound, characteristics of sound types, and 
metrics used in this document. Anthropogenic sounds cover a broad range 
of frequencies and sound levels and can have a range of highly variable 
impacts on marine life, from none or minor to potentially severe 
responses, depending on received levels, duration of exposure, 
behavioral context, and various other factors. The potential effects of 
underwater sound form active acoustic sources can potentially result in 
one or more of the following: Temporary or permanent hearing 
impairment, non-auditory physical or physiological effects, behavioral 
disturbance, stress, and masking (Richardson et al., 1995; Gordon et 
al., 2004; Nowacek et al., 2007; Southall et al., 2007; Gotz et al., 
2009). The effects of pile driving on marine mammals are dependent on 
several factors, including the size, type, and depth of the animal; the 
depth, intensity, and duration of the pile driving sound; the depth of 
the water column; the substrate of the habitat; the standoff distance 
between the pile and the animal; and the sound propagation properties 
of the environment. Impacts to marine mammals from pile driving 
activities are expected to result primarily from acoustic pathways. As 
such, the degree of effect is intrinsically related to the received 
level and duration of the sound exposure, which are in turn influenced 
by the distance between the animal and the source. The further away 
from the source, the less intense the exposure should be. The substrate 
and depth of the habitat affect the sound propagation properties of the 
environment. Shallow environments are typically more structurally 
complex, which leads to rapid sound attenuation. In addition, 
substrates that are soft (e.g., sand) would absorb or attenuate the 
sound more readily than hard substrates (e.g., rock) which may reflect 
the acoustic wave. Soft porous substrates would also likely require 
less time to drive the pile, and possibly less forceful equipment, 
which would ultimately decrease the intensity of the acoustic source.
    In the absence of mitigation, impacts to marine species would be 
expected to result from physiological and behavioral responses to both 
the type and strength of the acoustic signature (Viada et al., 2008). 
The type and severity of behavioral impacts are more difficult to 
define due to limited studies addressing the behavioral effects of 
impulse sounds on marine mammals. Potential effects from impulse sound 
sources can range in severity from effects such as behavioral 
disturbance or tactile perception to physical discomfort, slight injury 
of the internal organs and the auditory system, or mortality (Yelverton 
et al., 1973).
    Hearing Impairment and Other Physical Effects--Marine mammals 
exposed to high intensity sound repeatedly or for prolonged periods can 
experience hearing threshold shift (TS), which is the loss of hearing 
sensitivity at certain frequency ranges (Kastak et al., 1999; Schlundt 
et al., 2000; Finneran et al., 2002, 2005). TS can be permanent (PTS) 
in which case the loss of hearing sensitivity is not recoverable, or 
temporary (TTS), in which the animal's hearing threshold would recover 
over time (Southall et al., 2007). Marine mammals depend on acoustic 
cues for vital biological functions (e.g., orientation, communication, 
foraging, avoiding predators); thus, TTS may result in reduced fitness 
in survival and reproduction. However, this depends on the frequency 
and duration of TTS, as well as the biological context in which it 
occurs. TTS of limited duration, occurring in a frequency range that 
does not coincide with that used for recognition of important acoustic 
cues, would have little to no effect on an animal's fitness. Repeated 
sound exposure that leads to TTS could cause PTS. PTS constitutes 
injury, but TTS does not (Southall et al., 2007). The following 
subsections discuss in somewhat more detail the possibilities of TTS, 
PTS, and non-auditory physical effects.
    Temporary Threshold Shift--TTS is the mildest form of hearing 
impairment that can occur during exposure to a strong sound (Kryter 
1985). While experiencing TTS, the hearing threshold rises, and a sound 
must be stronger in order to be heard. In terrestrial mammals, TTS can 
last from minutes or hours to days (in cases of strong TTS). For sound 
exposures at or somewhat above the TTS threshold, hearing sensitivity 
in both terrestrial and marine mammals recovers rapidly after exposure 
to the sound ends. Few data on sound levels necessary to elicit mild 
TTS have been obtained for marine mammals, and none of the published 
data concern TTS elicited by exposure to multiple pulses of sound. 
Available data on TTS in marine mammals are summarized in Southall et 
al. (2007).
    Permanent Threshold Shift--When PTS occurs, there is physical 
damage to the sound receptors in the ear. In severe cases, there can be 
total or partial deafness, while in other cases the animal has an 
impaired ability to hear sounds in specific frequency ranges (Kryter 
1985). There is no specific evidence that exposure to pulses of sound 
can call PTS in any marine mammal. However, given the possibility that 
mammals close to a sound source might incur TTS, there has been further 
speculation about the possibility that some individuals might incur 
PTS. Single or occasional occurrences of mild TTS are not indicative of 
permanent auditory damage but repeated (or in some cases) single 
exposures to a level well above that causing TTS onset might elicit 
PTS.
    Relationships between TTS and PTS thresholds have not been studied 
in marine mammals--PTS data exists only for a single harbor seal 
(Kastak et al., 2008)--but are assumed to be similar to those in humans 
and other terrestrial mammals. PTS might occur at a received sound 
level at least several decibels above that inducing mild TTS if the 
animal were exposed to strong sound pulses with rapid rise time. Based 
on data from terrestrial mammals, a precautionary assumption is that 
the PTS threshold for impulse sounds (such as pile driving pulses 
received close to the source) is at least 6 dB higher than the TTS 
threshold on a peak-pressure basis and PTS cumulative sound exposure 
level threshold are 15 to 20 dB higher than TTS cumulative sound 
exposure level thresholds (Southall et al., 2007). Given the higher 
level of sound or longer exposure duration necessary to cause PTS as 
compared with TTS, it is considerably less likely that PTS could occur. 
The City will enforce a Level A exclusion zone to prevent PTS for all 
activities (see Proposed Mitigation section below).
    Non-auditory Physiological Effects--Non-auditory physiological 
effects or injuries that might theoretically occur in marine mammals 
exposed to strong underwater sound include stress, neurological 
effects, bubble formation, resonance effects, and other types of organ 
or tissue damage (Cox et al., 2006; Southall et al., 2007). Studies 
examining such effects are limited. In general, little is known about 
the potential for pile driving to cause auditory impairment or other 
physical effects in marine mammals. Available data suggest that such 
effects, if they occur at all, would presumably be limited to short 
distances from the sound source and to activities that extend over a 
prolonged period. The available data do not allow

[[Page 7688]]

identification of a specific exposure level above which non-auditory 
effects can be expected (Southall et al., 2007) or any meaningful 
quantitative predictions of the numbers (if any) of marine mammals that 
might be affected in those ways. However, the proposed activities do 
not involve the use of devices such as explosives or mid-frequency 
active sonar that are associated with these types of effects. 
Therefore, non-auditory physiological impacts to marine mammals are 
considered unlikely.

Disturbance Reactions

    Disturbance includes a variety of effects, including subtle changes 
in behavior, more conspicuous changes in activities, and displacement. 
Behavioral responses to sound are highly variable and context-specific 
and reactions, if any, depend on species, state of maturity, 
experience, current activity, reproductive state, auditory sensitivity, 
time of day, and many other factors (Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok 
et al., 2003; Southall et al., 2007).
    Habituation can occur when an animal's response to a stimulus wanes 
with repeated exposure, usually in the absence of unpleasant associated 
events (Wartzok et al., 2003). Animals are most likely to habituate to 
sounds that are predictable and unvarying. The opposite process is 
sensitization, when an unpleasant experience leads to subsequent 
responses, often in the form of avoidance, at a lower level of 
exposure. Behavioral state may affect the type of response as well. For 
example, animals that are resting may show greater behavioral change in 
response to disturbing sound levels than animals that are highly 
motivated to remain in an area for feeding (Richardson et al., 1995; 
NRC 2003; Wartzok et al., 2003).
    Controlled experiments with captive marine mammals showed 
pronounced behavioral reactions, including avoidance of loud sound 
sources (Ridgeway et al., 1997; Finneran et al., 2003). Responses to 
continuous sound, such as vibratory pile installation, have not been 
documented as well as responses to pulsed sounds.
    With vibratory pile driving (and removal, as in this project), it 
is likely that the onset of pile driving could result in temporary, 
short term changes in an animal's typical behavior and/or avoidance of 
the affected area. These behavioral changes may include (Richardson et 
al., 1995): Changing durations of surfacing and dives; moving direction 
and/or speed; reduced/increased vocal activities; changing/cessation of 
certain behavioral activities (such as socializing or feeding); visible 
startle response or aggressive behavior; avoidance of areas where sound 
sources are located; and/or flight responses (e.g., pinnipeds flushing 
into the water from haul-outs or rookeries). Pinnipeds may also 
increase their haul-out time, possibly to avoid in-water disturbance 
(Thorson and Reyff, 2006).
    The biological significance of many of these behavioral 
disturbances is difficult to predict, especially if the detected 
disturbances appear minor. However, the consequences of behavioral 
modification could be expected to be biologically significant if the 
change affects growth, survival, or reproduction. Significant 
behavioral modifications that could potentially lead to effects on 
growth, survival, or reproduction include:
     Drastic changes in diving/surfacing patterns;
     Habitat abandonment due to loss of desirable acoustic 
environment; and
     Cessation of feeding or social interaction.
    The onset of behavioral disturbances from anthropogenic sound 
depends on both external factors (characteristics of sound sources and 
their paths) and the specific characteristics of the receiving animals 
(hearing, motivation, experience, demography) and is difficult to 
predict (Southall et al., 2007).

Auditory Masking

    Natural and artificial sounds can disrupt behavior by masking, or 
interfering with, a marine mammal's ability to hear other sounds. 
Masking occurs when the receipt of a sound is interfered with by 
another coincident sound at similar frequencies and at similar or 
higher levels. Chronic exposure to excessive, though not high-
intensity, sound could cause masking at particular frequencies for 
marine mammals which utilize sound for vital biological functions. 
Masking can interfere with detection of acoustic signals such as 
communication calls, echolocation sounds, and environmental sounds 
important to marine mammals. Therefore, under certain circumstances, 
marine mammals whose acoustical sensors or environment are being 
severely masked could also be impaired from maximizing their 
performance fitness in survival and reproduction. If the coincident 
(masking) sound were man-made, it could potentially be harassing if it 
disrupted hearing-related behavior. It is important to distinguish TTS 
and PTS, which persist after the sound exposure, from masking, which 
occurs only during the sound exposure. Because masking (without 
resulting in TS) is not associated with abnormal physiological 
function, it is not considered a physiological effect, but rather a 
potential behavioral effect.
    The frequency range of the potentially masking sound is important 
in determining any potential behavioral impacts. Because sound 
generated from in-water vibratory pile driving is mostly concentrated 
at low frequency ranges, it may have less effect on high frequency 
echolocation sounds by odontocetes, which may hunt harbor seals. 
However, lower frequency man-made sounds are more likely to affect 
detection of communication calls and other potentially important 
natural sounds such as surf and prey sound. It may also affect 
communication signals when they occur near the sound band and thus 
reduce the communication space of animals (e.g., Clark et al., 2009) 
and cause increased stress levels (e.g., Foote et al., 2004; Holt et 
al., 2009).
    Masking affects both senders and receivers of acoustic signals and 
can potentially have long-term chronic effects on marine mammals at the 
population level as well as the individual level. Low-frequency ambient 
sound levels have increased by as much as 20 dB (more than three times 
in terms of SPL) in the world's ocean from pre-industrial periods, with 
most of the increase from distant commercial shipping (Hildebrand 
2009). All anthropogenic sound sources, but especially chronic and 
lower-frequency signals (e.g., from vessel traffic), contribute to 
elevated ambient sound levels, thus intensifying masking.
    Vibratory pile removal is relatively short-term, with rapid 
oscillations occurring for approximately 30 minutes per pile. It is 
possible that the vibratory pile removal resulting from this proposed 
action may mask acoustic signals important to the behavior and survival 
of marine mammal species, but the short-term duration and limited 
affected area would result in insignificant impacts from masking. Any 
masking event that could possibly rise to Level B harassment under the 
MMPA would occur concurrently within the zones of behavioral harassment 
already estimated for vibratory pile driving, and which have already 
been taken into account in the exposure analysis.
    Acoustic Effects, Airborne--Marine mammals, specifically California 
sea lions, that occur in the project area could be exposed to airborne 
sounds associated with pile driving and other construction activities 
(e.g., concrete removal) that have the potential to cause harassment, 
depending on their distance

[[Page 7689]]

from pile driving activities. Airborne construction sounds may be an 
issue for pinnipeds either hauled-out or looking with heads above water 
in the project area. Most likely, airborne sound would cause behavioral 
responses similar to those discussed above in relation to underwater 
sound. For instance, anthropogenic sound could cause hauled-out 
pinnipeds to exhibit changes in their normal behavior, such as 
reduction in vocalizations, or cause them to temporarily abandon their 
habitat and move further from the source. Studies by Blackwell et al. 
(2002) and Moulton et al. (2005) indicate a tolerance or lack of 
response to unweighted airborne sounds as high as 112 dB peak and 96 dB 
rms.
    Visual Disturbance--While three species of pinnipeds occur in the 
project area, only California sea lions are known to haul out in the 
vicinity of the bridges. California sea lions hauled out on the 
riverbanks below the bridge crossings and rail trestle may be visually 
disturbed by the increased presence of humans and construction 
equipment. Much of the work will occur above the riverbanks but some 
work will occur on the shore (e.g., concrete footing removal) in the 
vicinity of California sea lions. Sea lions may flush from their haul 
out site if construction equipment (e.g., excavator, crane, concrete 
saw) or personnel are present. General construction work associated 
with the demolition and installation of roadway and railway 
superstructures has the potential to visually disturb California sea 
lions.

Anticipated Effects on Habitat

    The primary potential effects to marine mammal habitat are 
associated with elevated sound levels produced by construction 
activities (e.g., pile driving, concrete removal) in the area. However, 
other potential impacts to the surrounding habitat from physical 
disturbance are also possible.
    Potential Pile Driving Effects on Prey--Construction activities 
would produce continuous (i.e., vibratory pile driving) and impulsive 
(i.e., impact pile driving) sounds. Fish react to sounds that are 
especially strong and/or intermittent low-frequency sounds. Short 
duration, sharp sounds can cause overt or subtle changes in fish 
behavior and local distribution. Hastings and Popper (2005) identified 
several studies that suggest fish may relocate to avoid certain areas 
of sound energy. Additional studies have documented effects of pile 
driving on fish, although several are based on studies in support of 
large, multiyear bridge construction projects (e.g., Scholik and Yan, 
2001, 2002; Popper and Hastings, 2009). Sound pulses at received levels 
of 160 dB may cause subtle changes in fish behavior. SPLs of 180 dB may 
cause noticeable changes in behavior (Pearson et al., 1992; Skalski et 
al., 1992). SPLs of sufficient strength have been known to cause injury 
to fish and fish mortality. The most likely impact to fish from pile 
driving activities at the project area would be temporary behavioral 
avoidance of the area. The duration of fish avoidance of this area 
after pile driving stops is unknown, but a rapid return to normal 
recruitment, distribution, and behavior is anticipated. In general, 
impacts to marine mammal prey species are expected to be minor and 
temporary due to the short timeframe for the project.
    Effects to Foraging Habitat--Pile installation and removal may 
temporarily increase turbidity resulting from suspended sediments. Any 
increases would be temporary, localized, and minimal. The City of 
Astoria must comply with state water quality standards during these 
operations by limiting the extent of turbidity to the immediate project 
area. In general, turbidity associated with pile installation is 
localized to about a 25-ft (7.62 m) radius around the pile (Everitt et 
al., 1980). Natural tidal currents and flow patterns in the Columbia 
River routinely disturb sediments. High volume tidal events can result 
in hydraulic forces that re-suspend benthic sediments, temporarily 
elevating turbidity locally. Any temporary increase as a result of the 
proposed action is not anticipated to measurably exceed levels caused 
by these normal, natural periods.
    In summary, given the short daily duration of sound associated with 
individual pile driving and removal events and the relatively small 
areas being affected, the proposed activities are not likely to have a 
permanent adverse effect on any fish habitat, or populations of fish 
species. Thus, any impacts to marine mammal habitat are not expected to 
cause significant or long-term consequences for individual marine 
mammals or their populations.

Estimated Take

    This section provides an estimate of the number of incidental takes 
proposed for authorization through this IHA, which will inform both 
NMFS' consideration of whether the number of takes is ``small'' and the 
negligible impact determination.
    Harassment is the only type of take expected to result from these 
activities. Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent 
here, section 3(18) of the MMPA defines ``harassment'' as: Any act of 
pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); 
or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal 
stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, 
including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, 
feeding, or sheltering (Level B harassment).
    Authorized takes would be by Level B harassment only, for 
individual marine mammals resulting from exposure to pile driving and 
construction activities. Based on the nature of the activity and the 
anticipated effectiveness of the mitigation measures (i.e., shutdown-- 
discussed in detail below in Proposed Mitigation section), Level A 
harassment is neither anticipated nor proposed to be authorized.
    As described previously, no mortality is anticipated or proposed to 
be authorized for this activity. Below we describe how the take is 
estimated.
    Described in the most basic way, we estimate take by considering: 
(1) Acoustic thresholds above which NMFS believes the best available 
science indicates marine mammals will be behaviorally harassed or incur 
some degree of permanent hearing impairment; (2) the area or volume of 
water that will be ensonified above these levels in a day; (3) the 
density or occurrence of marine mammals within these ensonified areas; 
and, (4) and the number of days of activities. Below, we describe these 
components in more detail and present the proposed take estimate.

Acoustic Thresholds

    Using the best available science, NMFS has developed acoustic 
thresholds that identify the received level of underwater sound above 
which exposed marine mammals would be reasonably expected to be 
behaviorally harassed (equated to Level B harassment) or to incur PTS 
of some degree (equated to Level A harassment). Thresholds have also 
been developed identifying the received level of in-air sound above 
which exposed pinnipeds would likely be behaviorally harassed.
    Level B Harassment for non-explosive sources--Though significantly 
driven by received level, the onset of behavioral disturbance from 
anthropogenic noise exposure is also informed to varying degrees by 
other factors related to the source (e.g., frequency, predictability, 
duty cycle), the environment (e.g., bathymetry), and the receiving 
animals (hearing, motivation, experience, demography, behavioral 
context) and

[[Page 7690]]

can be difficult to predict (Southall et al., 2007, Ellison et al., 
2011). Based on what the available science indicates and the practical 
need to use a threshold based on a factor that is both predictable and 
measurable for most activities, NMFS uses a generalized acoustic 
threshold based on received level to estimate the onset of behavioral 
harassment. NMFS predicts that marine mammals are likely to be 
behaviorally harassed in a manner we consider Level B harassment when 
exposed to underwater anthropogenic noise above received levels of 120 
dB re 1 [mu]Pa (rms) for continuous (e.g. vibratory pile-driving, 
drilling) and above 160 dB re 1 [mu]Pa (rms) for non-explosive 
impulsive (e.g., seismic airguns) or intermittent (e.g., scientific 
sonar) sources. For in-air sounds, NMFS predicts that pinnipeds exposed 
above received levels of 100 dB re 20 [mu]Pa (rms) will be behaviorally 
harassed.
    The City's proposed activities include the use of continuous 
(vibratory pile driving) and impulsive (impact pile driving) sources, 
and therefore the 120 and 160 dB re 1 [mu]Pa (rms) are applicable.
    Level A harassment for non-explosive sources--NMFS' Technical 
Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine 
Mammal Hearing (Technical Guidance, 2016) identifies dual criteria to 
assess auditory injury (Level A harassment) to five different marine 
mammal groups (based on hearing sensitivity) as a result of exposure to 
noise from two different types of sources (impulsive or non-impulsive). 
The City's proposed activities include the use of impulsive (impact 
pile driving) and non-impulsive (vibratory pile driving) sources.
    These thresholds were developed by compiling and synthesizing the 
best available science and soliciting input multiple times from both 
the public and peer reviewers to inform the final product, and are 
provided in Table 6 below. The references, analysis, and methodology 
used in the development of the thresholds are described in NMFS 2016 
Technical Guidance, which may be accessed at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/resource/document/underwater-acoustic-thresholds-onset-permanent-and-temporary-threshold-shifts.

 Table 6--Thresholds Identifying the Onset of Permanent Threshold Shift
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          PTS onset thresholds
        Hearing group         ------------------------------------------
                                   Impulsive          Non-impulsive
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low-Frequency (LF) Cetaceans.  Lpk,flat: 219     LE,LF,24h: 199 dB.
                                dB; LE,LF,24h:
                                183 dB.
Mid-Frequency (MF) Cetaceans.  Lpk,flat: 230     LE,MF,24h: 198 dB.
                                dB; LE,MF,24h:
                                185 dB.
High-Frequency (HF) Cetaceans  Lpk,flat: 202     LE,HF,24h: 173 dB.
                                dB; LE,HF,24h:
                                155 dB.
Phocid Pinnipeds (PW)          Lpk,flat: 218     LE,PW,24h: 201 dB.
 (Underwater).                  dB; LE,PW,24h:
                                185 dB.
Otariid Pinnipeds (OW)         Lpk,flat: 232     LE,OW,24h: 219 dB.
 (Underwater).                  dB; LE,OW,24h:
                                203 dB.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Dual metric acoustic thresholds for impulsive sounds: Use whichever
  results in the largest isopleth for calculating PTS onset. If a non-
  impulsive sound has the potential of exceeding the peak sound pressure
  level thresholds associated with impulsive sounds, these thresholds
  should also be considered.
Note: Peak sound pressure (Lpk) has a reference value of 1 [mu]Pa, and
  cumulative sound exposure level (LE) has a reference value of
  1[mu]Pa2s. In this Table, thresholds are abbreviated to reflect
  American National Standards Institute standards (ANSI 2013). However,
  peak sound pressure is defined by ANSI as incorporating frequency
  weighting, which is not the intent for this Technical Guidance. Hence,
  the subscript ``flat'' is being included to indicate peak sound
  pressure should be flat weighted or unweighted within the generalized
  hearing range. The subscript associated with cumulative sound exposure
  level thresholds indicates the designated marine mammal auditory
  weighting function (LF, MF, and HF cetaceans, and PW and OW pinnipeds)
  and that the recommended accumulation period is 24 hours. The
  cumulative sound exposure level thresholds could be exceeded in a
  multitude of ways (i.e., varying exposure levels and durations, duty
  cycle). When possible, it is valuable for action proponents to
  indicate the conditions under which these acoustic thresholds will be
  exceeded.

Ensonified Area

    Here, we describe operational and environmental parameters of the 
activity that will feed into identifying the area ensonified above the 
acoustic thresholds.
Level B Harassment
    In-Air Disturbance during General Construction Activities--Level B 
behavioral disturbance may occur incidental to the use of construction 
equipment during general construction that is proposed in the dry, 
above water, or inland within close proximity to the river banks. These 
construction activities are associated with the removal and 
construction of the rail superstructures, and the removal of the 
existing concrete foundations and the 9th Street retaining wall. 
Possible equipment includes an excavator, crane, dump truck, and chain 
saw. It is estimated that the sound levels during these activities will 
range from 78 to 93 dB RMS at 20 m from the sound source, with the 
loudest airborne noise produced by the use of a concrete saw (Hanan & 
Associates, 2014). These noise levels are based on acoustic data 
collected during the City of San Diego Lifeguard Station Demolition and 
Construction Monitoring project. Using the Spherical Spreading Loss 
Model (20logR), a maximum sound source level of 93 dB RMS at 20 m, 
sound levels in-air would attenuate below the 90dB RMS Level B 
harassment threshold for harbor seals at 28 m, and below the 100 dB RMS 
threshold for all other pinnipeds at 9 m. Harbor seals are only present 
in the main river channel and are not expected to occur within 28 m of 
the activity and are therefore not expected to be harassed by in-air 
sound. Additionally, the city is proposing a 10 m shutdown zone for all 
general construction work to prevent injury from physical interaction 
with equipment. The City would therefore shut down equipment before 
hauled out sea lions could be acoustically harassed by the sound 
produced. No Level B harassment is expected to occur due to increased 
sounds from railway and roadway construction. However, sea lions may be 
disturbed by the presence of construction equipment and increased human 
presence during above-water construction.
    Although some piles may potentially be driven or removed in the dry 
due to tidal conditions, the City is assuming all pile driving and 
removal will occur in water. The Level B zone of influence for in-water 
pile driving and removal is greater than the airborne zone of influence 
so no airborne harassment is requested from pile driving or removal. 
All harassment due to pile driving and removal is assumed to be in-
water.
    In-Water Disturbance during Vibratory Pile Removal--Level B 
behavioral disturbance may occur incidental to the use of a vibratory 
hammer due to propagation of underwater noise during the removal of the 
existing timber substructures. An

[[Page 7691]]

estimated 255 timber piles will need to be removed to facilitate 
construction of the three new crossings. It is anticipated that the 
contractor will need to utilize a vibratory hammer during extraction. 
Removal via vibratory hammer will result in the greatest amount of 
underwater noise during construction and will be the farthest reaching 
extent of aquatic impacts during pile removal activities. We note that 
some pile removal will occur in the dry (depending on tidal stage); 
however, we are conservatively assuming all work would occur in-water 
since it is not feasible to determine how many piles would be removed 
in the dry. When piles are removed at lower tidal stages, we do not 
anticipate sound to propagate as far or, in the case of no water, at 
all.
    Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) monitored 
underwater noise during the removal of three 12-in timber dolphin piles 
at Port Townsend (Laughlin, 2011a). Most of the timber piles to be 
removed in this project are 12-in but some may be up to 14-in. Average 
noise levels during vibratory removal of the wood piles were measured 
at 150 dB RMS at 16 m from the source. The Practical Spreading Loss 
Model (15logR) was used to calculate the in-water Level B Zone of 
Influence (ZOI) during vibratory pile removal. Using a measurement of 
150dB at 16 m, a 1,600 m Level B ZOI (120 dB RMS threshold) is expected 
for vibratory pile removal activities. Based on the contours of the 
shoreline and 1,600 m ZOI, a total of 4.5 square kilometers (km\2\) is 
expected to be ensonified due to vibratory pile removal (see Figure 10 
in application) (Table 7).
    In-Water Disturbance during Impact Pile Driving--Level B behavioral 
disturbance may occur incidental to the use of an impact hammer due to 
the propagation of underwater noise during the installation of 
permanent and temporary steel piles. The City proposes to install a 
total of 74 24-in and 10 16-in steel piles. The City used the sound 
source levels from 24-in piles only to estimate the ZOI due to pile 
driving as the sound source levels from 24-in piles are greater than 
those of 16-in piles. The City will use the ZOI created by installation 
of 24-in piles during the installation of 16-in piles to be 
conservative.
    Based on the most recent WSDOT data, the unmitigated sound pressure 
level associated with impact pile driving 24-in steel piles is 194 dB 
RMS at 10 m (WSDOT, 2016). The contractor will be required to use a 
bubble curtain device during impact pile driving in compliance with the 
Federal Aid Highway Program (FAHP) Programmatic Biological Opinion 
which will be utilized for ESA coverage for listed salmonids. Use of a 
bubble curtain device was assumed to decrease initial sound levels by 
10 dB (Reyff 2007), resulting in an initial SPL of 184 dB RMS at 10 m 
from the source. Using the values from WSDOT in the Practical Spreading 
Loss Model (15logR), the distance to the 160 dB behavioral disturbance 
threshold is calculated to be 398 m from the pile when a noise 
attenuation device is used (Table 7) as opposed to 1,848 m when a 
device is not used. The use of a noise attenuation device would shrink 
the distance at which noise exceeds the thresholds by approximately 80 
percent, resulting in a significantly smaller area of potential impact. 
With a 398 m ZOI, a total of 0.40 km\2\ is expected to be ensonified by 
impact pile driving (Figure 11 in application).

                     Table 7--Inputs and Resulting Distances to Level B Harassment Isopleths
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    Propagation
           Activity              SL  (distance   Threshold level       loss           Level B      Level B area
                                 measured) \1\                      coefficient    isopleth  (m)      (km\2\)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vibratory pile driving/        150 dB (16 m)...  120 dB re 1                  15           1,600             4.5
 removal.                                         [micro]Pa.
Impact pile driving (24-in     184 dB (10 m)...  160 dB re 1                  15             398             0.4
 piles).                                          [micro]Pa.
General Construction (in-air)  93 dB (20 m)....  100 dB re 20                 20             9 m             n/a
                                                  [micro]Pa.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Level A Harassment
    When NMFS Technical Guidance (2016) was published, in recognition 
of the fact that ensonified area/volume could be more technically 
challenging to predict because of the duration component in the new 
thresholds, we developed a User Spreadsheet that includes tools to help 
predict a simple isopleth that can be used in conjunction with marine 
mammal density or occurrence to help predict takes. We note that 
because of some of the assumptions included in the methods used for 
these tools, we anticipate that isopleths produced are typically going 
to be overestimates of some degree, which will result in some degree of 
overestimate of Level A take. However, these tools offer the best way 
to predict appropriate isopleths when more sophisticated 3D modeling 
methods are not available, and NMFS continues to develop ways to 
quantitatively refine these tools, and will qualitatively address the 
output where appropriate. For stationary sources (such as impact and 
vibratory pile driving), NMFS User Spreadsheet predicts the closest 
distance at which, if a marine mammal remained at that distance the 
whole duration of the activity, it would not incur PTS. Inputs used in 
the User Spreadsheet, and the resulting isopleths are reported below.

          Table 8--PTS Isopleth Data for Vibratory Pile Removal
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Source Level (RMS SPL).......................................        150
Activity Duration (hours) within 24-hr period................          8
Activity Duration (seconds)..................................     28,800
10 Log (Duration)............................................      44.59
Propagation (xLogR)..........................................         15
Distance of source level measurement (m).....................         16
------------------------------------------------------------------------


       Table 9--Resulting PTS Isopleths for Vibratory Pile Driving
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      Phocid    Otariid
                                                    pinnipeds  pinnipeds
------------------------------------------------------------------------
SELcum Threshold..................................        210        219
PTS Isopleth to Threshold (meters)................        4.9        0.3
------------------------------------------------------------------------


           Table 10--PTS Isopleth Data for Impact Pile Driving
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Source Level (Single Strike/shot SEL)........................        168
(a) Number of strikes in 1 h OR (b) Number of strikes per            250
 pile........................................................
(a) Activity Duration (h) within 24-h period OR (b) Number of          4
 piles per day...............................................
Propagation (xLogR)..........................................         15
Distance of single strike SEL measurement (meters)...........         10
------------------------------------------------------------------------


        Table 11--Resulting PTS Isopleths for Impact Pile Driving
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      Phocid    Otariid
                                                    pinnipeds  pinnipeds
------------------------------------------------------------------------
SELcum- Threshold.................................        185        203

[[Page 7692]]

 
PTS Isopleth to Threshold (m).....................       53.4        3.9
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The resulting small PTS isopleths assume an animal would remain 
stationary at that distance for the duration of the activity. Given the 
extended durations and due to the relatively small distances to PTS 
onset from each activity, and the mitigation measures (See ``Proposed 
Mitigation'') proposed by the City, Level A take is neither expected 
nor authorized.

Marine Mammal Occurrence

    In this section we provide the information about the presence, 
density, or group dynamics of marine mammals that will inform the take 
calculations.
    The City used species counts from 2000-2014 taken by WDFW from the 
South Jetty at the mouth of the Columbia River to determine the number 
of pinnipeds that may be in the vicinity of the project. Although the 
South Jetty is over 10 miles away from the project site, WDFW monthly 
counts are the best available data for potential marine mammal 
occurrence near the project site. Numbers of California sea lions 
hauled out at the South Jetty ranged from 1 to 1,214, with a general 
trend of lower numbers in the summer and winter, and peak counts in the 
fall and spring. Monthly counts of Steller sea lions ranged from 177 to 
1,663, with the highest numbers occurring in late fall and winter. 
Counts of harbor seals were not conducted every month, but the numbers 
of harbor seals at the South Jetty ranged from one to 57 seals.

Take Calculation and Estimation

    Here we describe how the information provided above is brought 
together to produce a quantitative take estimate.
    Although three species of pinniped occur in the vicinity of the 
project, they do not occur in equal numbers. Harbor seals and Steller 
sea lions are only known to occur out in the river channel and would 
only be harassed if they are transiting through the Zone of Influence 
(1,600 m for vibratory pile removal, 398 m for impact pile driving). 
Harbor seals and Steller sea lions would only be harassed during the 
in-water work period (November through February). California sea lions 
are the most commonly seen in the area, and are known to haul out on 
the riverbanks and structures near the bridges. California sea lions 
may be harassed by underwater sound resulting from vibratory pile 
removal and impact pile driving (at the distances listed above) as well 
as airborne sound resulting from roadway and railway demolition and 
construction. Using the highest sound source (concrete saw, 93 
dBRMS re: 20 [micro]Pa at 20 m), the isopleth to Level B 
harassment from airborne noise (100 dB re: 20 [micro]Pa) is 9 m. The 
City is proposing a 10 m shutdown zone during all railway and roadway 
above-water construction to prevent injury from physical interaction 
with equipment (see ``Proposed Mitigation''). The City would therefore 
shut down equipment before sea lions would be acoustically harassed by 
the sound produced and no Level B acoustic harassment would occur. 
However, the City anticipates that California sea lions hauled out on 
the banks of the river in the vicinity of the construction work may be 
visually disturbed by the presence of construction equipment and may 
flush, resulting in Level B take. Therefore, the City is requesting 
take of California sea lions during the above-water work period 
(October 2018 and March-April 2019).
    While harbor seals and Steller sea lions would only be harassed 
during the in-water work period (November through February), California 
sea lions may be harassed over the entire duration of the project 
(October through April). To determine the estimated pinniped exposure 
and take, average monthly counts for each species from the South Jetty 
haulout (Table 12) were multiplied by the duration (months) of their 
expected exposure (Table 13).

                          Table 12--Average Counts of Pinnipeds at South Jetty Haulout
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      Monthly                         Monthly
                                                                      average         Monthly         average
                              Month                                  number of        average        number of
                                                                    California      numbers of      Steller sea
                                                                     sea lions     harbor seals        lions
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
October.........................................................             508             N/A             N/A
November........................................................           1,214              24           1,663
December........................................................             725              57           1,112
January.........................................................              10              24             249
February........................................................              28               1             259
March...........................................................              17             N/A             N/A
April...........................................................              99             N/A             N/A
Average over course of project..................................             372              27             821
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For example, California sea lion take was estimated by multiplying 
the average monthly count at the South Jetty haulout from October 
through April (372) by the number of months of project activity (7) for 
a total of 2,604.

                                                     Table 13--Estimated Pinniped Exposure and Take
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Average count                     In-water      Total months                     Percent of
                                                             per month     In-air months      months        of impacts      Total take         stock
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
California Sea Lion.....................................         \1\ 372               3               4               7           2,604            0.88
Steller Sea Lion........................................         \2\ 821               0               4               4           3,284             7.9
Harbor Seal.............................................          \2\ 27               0               4               4             108            0.44
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Average monthly counts from October through April at the South Jetty (WDFW 2014).
\2\ Average monthly counts from November through February at the South Jetty (WDFW 2014).


[[Page 7693]]

Proposed Mitigation

    In order to issue an IHA under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, 
NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such 
activity, ``and other means of effecting the least practicable impact 
on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention 
to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on 
the availability of such species or stock for taking'' for certain 
subsistence uses (latter not applicable for this action). NMFS 
regulations require applicants for incidental take authorizations to 
include information about the availability and feasibility (economic 
and technological) of equipment, methods, and manner of conducting such 
activity or other means of effecting the least practicable adverse 
impact upon the affected species or stocks and their habitat (50 CFR 
216.104(a)(11)).
    In evaluating how mitigation may or may not be appropriate to 
ensure the least practicable adverse impact on species or stocks and 
their habitat, as well as subsistence uses where applicable, we 
carefully consider two primary factors:
    (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful 
implementation of the measure(s) is expected to reduce impacts to 
marine mammals, marine mammal species or stocks, and their habitat. 
This considers the nature of the potential adverse impact being 
mitigated (likelihood, scope, range). It further considers the 
likelihood that the measure will be effective if implemented 
(probability of accomplishing the mitigating result if implemented as 
planned) the likelihood of effective implementation (probability 
implemented as planned); and
    (2) The practicability of the measures for applicant 
implementation, which may consider such things as cost, impact on 
operations, and, in the case of a military readiness activity, 
personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the 
effectiveness of the military readiness activity.

Mitigation for Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    General Construction Measures--All construction activities will be 
performed in accordance with the current Oregon Department of 
Transportation (ODOT) Standard Specifications for Construction, the 
Contract Plans, and the Project Special Provisions. In addition, the 
following general construction measures will be adhered to.
     All work below the HMT will be completed during the ODFW 
prescribed IWWP of November 1 through February 28.
     All work shall be performed according to the requirements 
and conditions of the regulatory permits issued by federal, state, and 
local governments. Seasonal restrictions, i.e., work windows, will be 
applied to the Project to avoid or minimize potential impacts to listed 
or proposed species based on agreement with, and the regulatory permits 
issued by Department of State Lands, and USACE in consultation with 
NMFS. The City will comply with all stipulations from the FAHP 
Biological Opinion for salmonids (i.e., using air bubble curtains).
     The City will have an inspector onsite during 
construction. The role of the inspector is to ensure compliance with 
the construction contract and other permits and regulations. The onsite 
inspector will also perform marine mammal monitoring duties when 
protected species observers (PSOs) are not onsite (See Proposed 
Monitoring section).
     To ensure no contaminants enter the water, mobile heavy 
equipment will be stored in a staging area at least 150 ft from the 
river or in an isolated hard zone. Equipment will be inspected daily 
for fluid leaks before leaving the staging area. Stationary equipment 
operated within 150 ft of the river will be maintained and protected to 
prevent leaks and spills. Erosion and sediment control BMPs will be 
installed prior to initiating and construction activities.
     The contractor will be responsible for the preparation of 
a Pollution Control Plan (PCP). The PCP will designate a professional 
on-call spill response teams, and identify all contractor activities, 
hazardous substances used, and wastes generated. The PCP will describe 
how hazardous substances and wastes will be stored, used, contained, 
monitored, disposed of, and documented.
    Pile Removal and Installation BMPs--The following mitigation 
measures will be implemented to minimize disturbance during pile 
removal and installation activities.
     An air bubble system shall be employed during impact 
installation unless the piles are driven on dry areas.
     The contractor will implement a soft-start procedure for 
impact pile driving activities. The objective of a soft-start is to 
provide a warning and/or give animals in close proximity to pile 
driving a chance to leave the area prior to an impact driver operating 
at full capacity, thereby exposing fewer animals to loud underwater and 
airborne sounds. A soft-start procedure will be used at the beginning 
of each day that pile installation activities are conducted (i.e., for 
impact driving, an initial set of three strikes would be made by the 
hammer at 40 percent energy, followed by a one minute wait period, then 
two subsequent three-strike sets at 40 percent energy, with one minute 
waiting periods, before initiating continuous driving).
     Monitoring of marine mammals shall take place starting 30 
minutes before construction begins until 30 minutes after construction 
ends (See Proposed Monitoring).
     Before commencement of vibratory pile removal activities, 
the City will establish a 15 m Level A Exclusion Zone.
     Before commencement of impact pile driving activities, the 
City will establish a 53.4 m Level A Exclusion Zone.
     Before commencement of above water construction 
activities, the City will establish a 10 m Level A Exclusion Zone to 
prevent injury from physical interaction with construction equipment.
     The City shall shut down operations if a marine mammal is 
sighted within or approaching the Level A Exclusion Zone until the 
marine mammal is sighted moving away from the exclusion zone, or if not 
sighted for 15 minutes after the shutdown. The City will also shut down 
to prevent Level B takes when the take of a pinniped species is 
approaching the authorized take limits.
     If the exclusion zone is obscured by poor lighting 
conditions, pile driving will not be initiated until the entire zone is 
visible.
     In-water work will only commence once observers have 
declared the Exclusion Zone clear of marine mammals.
    Based on our evaluation of the applicant's proposed measures, NMFS 
has preliminarily determined that the proposed mitigation measures 
provide the means effecting the least practicable impact on the 
affected species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular 
attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar 
significance.

Proposed Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue an IHA for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of 
the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth, ``requirements pertaining to 
the monitoring and reporting of such taking.'' The MMPA implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for 
authorizations must include the suggested means of accomplishing the 
necessary monitoring

[[Page 7694]]

and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species 
and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals 
that are expected to be present in the proposed action area. Effective 
reporting is critical both to compliance as well as ensuring that the 
most value is obtained from the required monitoring.
    Monitoring and reporting requirements prescribed by NMFS should 
contribute to improved understanding of one or more of the following:
     Occurrence of marine mammal species or stocks in the area 
in which take is anticipated (e.g., presence, abundance, distribution, 
density).
     Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure 
to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or 
chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment 
(e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) 
affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) co-occurrence 
of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) biological or 
behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas).
     Individual marine mammal responses (behavioral or 
physiological) to acoustic stressors (acute, chronic, or cumulative), 
other stressors, or cumulative impacts from multiple stressors.
     How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) 
Long-term fitness and survival of individual marine mammals; or (2) 
populations, species, or stocks.
     Effects on marine mammal habitat (e.g., marine mammal prey 
species, acoustic habitat, or other important physical components of 
marine mammal habitat).
     Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness.

Proposed Monitoring

    (1) Protected Species Observers: The City will employ qualified 
PSOs to monitor the extent of the Region of Activity for marine 
mammals. Qualifications for marine mammal observers include:
    a. Visual acuity in both eyes (correction is permissible) 
sufficient for discerning moving targets at the water's surface with 
ability to estimate target size and distance. Use of binoculars is 
necessary to correctly identify the target.
    b. Advanced education (at least some college level course work) in 
biological science, wildlife management, mammalogy, or related fields 
(bachelor's degree or higher is preferred but not required).
    c. Experience or training in the field identification of marine 
mammals (cetaceans and pinnipeds).
    d. Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the 
construction operation to provide for personal safety during 
observations.
    e. Ability to communicate orally, by radio or in person, with 
project personnel to provide real time information on marine mammals 
observed in the area as necessary.
    f. Experience and ability to conduct field observations and collect 
data according to assigned protocols (this may include academic 
experience).
    g. Writing skills sufficient to prepare a report of observations 
that would include such information as the number and type of marine 
mammals observed; the behavior of marine mammals in the project area; 
dates and times when observations were conducted; dates and times when 
in-water construction activities were conducted; and dates and times 
when marine mammals were present at or within the defined Region of 
Activity.
    (2) Monitoring Schedule: PSOs shall be present onsite during IWW 
construction activities as follows:
    a. During vibratory pile removal activities:
    i. Two NMFS qualified observers will be onsite the first day of 
removal at each bridge, one NMFS qualified observer will be onsite 
every third day thereafter.
    ii. One NMFS qualified observer will be stationed at the best 
practicable land-based vantage point to observe the downstream portion 
of the disturbance zone, and the other positioned at the best 
practicable land-based vantage point to monitor the upstream portion of 
the disturbance zone.
    iii. When PSOs are not onsite, the contractor's onsite inspector 
will be trained in species identification and monitoring protocol, and 
will be onsite during all pile removal activities to ensure that no 
species enter the 15 m Exclusion Zone.
    b. During pile driving activities:
    i. Two NMFS qualified observers will be onsite the first two days 
of pile driving at each bridge, and every third day thereafter.
    ii. One NMFS observer will be stationed at the best practicable 
land-based vantage point to observe the downstream portion of the 
disturbance and exclusion zones, and the other positioned at the best 
practicable land-based vantage point to monitor the upstream portion of 
the disturbance and exclusion zones.
    iii. When PSOs are not onsite, the contractor's onsite inspector 
will be trained in species identification and monitoring protocol, and 
will be onsite during all pile driving activities to ensure that no 
species enter the Exclusion Zone.
    c. During substructure demolition activities (not including pile 
driving/removal) and superstructure demolition and construction 
activities:
    i. One NMFS qualified observer will be onsite once a week to 
monitor the Exclusion Zone within 10 m of the construction site.
    ii. When PSO is not on-site, the contractor's inspector will be 
trained in species identification and monitoring protocol, and will be 
onsite during all construction activities to ensure that no species 
enter the 10 m Exclusion Zone during superstructure demolition and 
construction activities.
    (3) Monitoring Protocols: PSOs shall monitor marine mammal presence 
within the Level A Exclusion Zone and Level B ZOIs per the following 
protocols:
    a. A range finder or hand-held global positioning system device 
will be used by PSOs to ensure that the defined Exclusion Zones are 
fully monitored and the Level B ZOIs monitored to the best extent 
practicable.
    b. A 30-minute pre-construction marine mammal monitoring period 
will be required before the first pile driving or pile removal of the 
day. A 30-minute post-construction marine mammal monitoring period will 
be required after the last pile driving or pile removal of the day. If 
the contractor's personnel take a break between subsequent pile driving 
or pile removal for more than 30 minutes, then additional pre-
construction marine mammal monitoring will be required before the next 
start-up of pile driving or pile removal.
    c. If marine mammals are observed, the following information will 
be documented:
    i. Species of observed marine mammals;
    ii. Number of observed marine mammal individuals;
    iii. Life stages of marine mammals observed;
    iv. Behavioral habits, including feeding, of observed marine 
mammals, in both presence and absence of activities;
    v. Location within the Region of Activity; and
    vi. Animals' reaction (if any) to pile driving activities or other 
construction-related stressors including:
    1. Impacts to the long-term fitness of the individual animal, if 
any
    2. Long-term impacts to the population, species, or stock (e.g.,

[[Page 7695]]

through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival), if any
    vii. Overall effectiveness of mitigation measures
    d. During vibratory pule removal and impact driving, qualified PSOs 
will monitor the Level B ZOIs from the best practicable land-based 
vantage point to observe the downstream and upstream portions of the 
disturbance zone according to the above schedule.
    e. PSOs shall use binoculars to monitor the Region of Activity.

Reporting

    (1) The City shall provide NMFS with a draft monitoring report 
within 90 days of the conclusion of the construction work. This report 
shall detail the monitoring protocol, summarize the data recorded 
during monitoring, and estimate the number of marine mammals that may 
have been harassed.
    (2) If comments are received from the NMFS West Coast Regional 
Administrator or NMFS Office of Protected Resources on the draft 
report, a final report shall be submitted to NMFS within 30 days 
thereafter. If no comments are received from NMFS, the draft report 
will be considered to be the final report.
    (3) In the unanticipated event that the construction activities 
clearly cause the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by the 
NMFS authorization, such as an injury, serious injury, or mortality 
(e.g., gear interaction), the City shall immediately cease all 
operations and immediately report the incident to the Chief, Permits 
and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, and the West 
Coast Regional Stranding Coordinators. The report must include the 
following information:
    a. Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the incident;
    b. Description of the incident;
    c. Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding the 
incident;
    d. Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, 
Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, visibility, and water depth);
    e. Description of marine mammal observations in the 24 hours 
preceding the incident;
    f. Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved, 
including life stage and the fate of the animal(s); and
    g. Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if equipment is 
available).
    Activities shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the 
circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS shall work with the City to 
determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further 
prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. Activities may not be 
resumed until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone.
    (4) In the event that the City discovers an injured or dead marine 
mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the cause of injury or death 
is unknown and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in less than a 
moderate state of decay as described in the next paragraph), the City 
will immediately report the incident to the Chief, Permits and 
Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the 
West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinators. The report must contain the 
same information identified above. Activities may continue while NMFS 
reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with the City 
to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate.
    (5) In the event that the City discovers an injured or dead marine 
mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the injury or death is not 
associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA 
(e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced 
decomposition, or scavenger damage), the City shall report the incident 
to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, and the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinators, 
within 24 hours of the discovery. The City shall provide photographs or 
video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded 
animal sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. The 
City can continue its operations under such a case.

Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination

    NMFS has defined negligible impact as ``an impact resulting from 
the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is 
not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through 
effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival'' (50 CFR 216.103). 
A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse 
effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., population-
level effects). An estimate of the number of takes alone is not enough 
information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to 
considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be 
``taken'' through harassment, NMFS considers other factors, such as the 
likely nature of any responses (e.g., intensity, duration), the context 
of any responses (e.g., critical reproductive time or location, 
migration), as well as effects on habitat, and the likely effectiveness 
of the mitigation. We also assess the number, intensity, and context of 
estimated takes by evaluating this information relative to population 
status. Consistent with the 1989 preamble for NMFS's implementing 
regulations (54 FR 40338; September 29, 1989), the impacts from other 
past and ongoing anthropogenic activities are incorporated into this 
analysis via their impacts on the environmental baseline (e.g., as 
reflected in the regulatory status of the species, population size and 
growth rate where known, ongoing sources of human-caused mortality, or 
ambient noise levels).
    To avoid repetition, the discussion of our analyses applies to all 
three species proposed to be taken by this project (California sea 
lion, Steller sea lion, and harbor seal), given that the anticipated 
effects of this activity on these different marine mammal stocks are 
expected to be similar. There is little information about the nature or 
severity of the impacts, or the size, status, or structure of any of 
these species or stocks that would lead to a different analysis for 
this activity.
    Authorized takes are expected to be limited to short-term Level B 
harassment. Marine mammals present in the vicinity of the action area 
and taken by Level B harassment would most likely show overt brief 
disturbance (startle reaction, flushing) and avoidance of the area from 
elevated noise levels during pile removal and installation and railway 
superstructure construction. The project is not expected to have a 
significant adverse effect on affected marine mammal habitat, as 
discussed in detail in the ``Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal 
Habitat'' section. There is no critical habitat in the vicinity of the 
project and the project activities would not permanently modify 
existing marine mammal habitat. The impacts to marine mammal habitat 
from the proposed construction actions are expected to be temporary and 
include increased human activity and noise levels, minimal impacts to 
water quality, and negligible changes in prey availability near the 
individual bridge sites. Pinnipeds in the vicinity are likely 
habituated to high levels of human activity as the Astoria waterfront 
is a highly developed area. The project may benefit marine mammal 
habitat by removing several hundred treated timber piles from the 
Columbia River.
    Impacts to exposed pinnipeds are expected to be minor and 
temporary. The area likely impacted by the construction is relatively 
small compared to the available habitat in the river. For California 
and Steller sea

[[Page 7696]]

lions, sub-adult and adult males could be harassed during construction 
activities. For harbor seals, sub-adult and adult males and/or females 
could be harassed during construction activities. The project occurs 
outside of known pupping periods for all species, and there are no 
known rookeries within the region of activity. No pups or breeding 
adults are expected to be affected by the project activities.
    In summary and as described above, the following factors primarily 
support our preliminary determination that the impacts resulting from 
this activity are not expected to adversely affect the species or stock 
through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival:
     No mortality is anticipated or authorized;
     No injury or serious injury is anticipated or authorized;
     In-water work is limited to a four-month period, and 
likely only 80 days within that time;
     No permanent effects to marine mammal habitat or prey is 
expected;
     Marine mammals are currently exposed to high human use 
area and are likely habituated to disturbance;
     Any impacts from the project are expected to result in 
short-term, mild behavioral reactions such as avoidance or flushing;
     There are no known important feeding, pupping, or other 
areas of biological significance in the project area; and
     The project affects only a small percentage of each stock 
of marine mammal affected, and only in a limited portion of their 
overall range.
    Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the 
specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into 
consideration the implementation of the proposed monitoring and 
mitigation measures, NMFS preliminarily finds that the total marine 
mammal take from the proposed activity will have a negligible impact on 
all affected marine mammal species or stocks.

Small Numbers

    As noted above, only small numbers of incidental take may be 
authorized under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for specified 
activities other than military readiness activities. The MMPA does not 
define small numbers and so, in practice, where estimated numbers are 
available, NMFS compares the number of individuals taken to the most 
appropriate estimation of abundance of the relevant species or stock in 
our determination of whether an authorization is limited to small 
numbers of marine mammals. Additionally, other qualitative factors may 
be considered in the analysis, such as the temporal or spatial scale of 
the activities.
    The number of each species proposed to be taken as a result of this 
project is less than 10 percent of the total stock. In fact, the 
numbers of California sea lions and harbor seals is less than one 
percent of their respective stock abundance estimates. Additionally, 
the number of takes requested is based on the number of estimated 
exposures, not necessarily the number of individuals exposed. Pinnipeds 
may remain in the general area of the project sites and the same 
individuals may be harassed multiple times over multiple days, rather 
than numerous individuals harassed once.
    Based on the analysis contained herein of the proposed activity 
(including the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures) and the 
anticipated take of marine mammals, NMFS preliminarily finds that small 
numbers of marine mammals will be taken relative to the population size 
of the affected species or stocks.

Unmitigable Adverse Impact Analysis and Determination

    There are no relevant subsistence uses of the affected marine 
mammal stocks or species implicated by this action. Therefore, NMFS has 
preliminarily determined that the total taking of affected species or 
stocks would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability 
of such species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes.

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA: 16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any 
action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize 
the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or 
result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated 
critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, 
NMFS consults internally, in this case with the NMFS West Coast Region 
Protected Resources Division Office, whenever we propose to authorize 
take for endangered or threatened species.
    No incidental take of ESA-listed species is proposed for 
authorization or expected to result from this activity. Therefore, NMFS 
has determined that formal consultation under section 7 of the ESA is 
not required for this action.

Proposed Authorization

    As a result of these preliminary determinations, NMFS proposes to 
issue an IHA to the City of Astoria for conducting waterfront bridge 
removal and replacement in Astoria, OR from October 1, 2018 to 
September 30, 2019, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, 
monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. This section 
contains a draft of the IHA itself. The wording contained in this 
section is proposed for inclusion in the IHA (if issued).

Incidental Harassment Authorization

    The City of Astoria (City) is hereby authorized under section 
101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 
1371(a)(5)(D)) to harass marine mammals incidental to the Waterfront 
Bridges Replacement Project in Astoria, Oregon, when adhering to the 
following terms and conditions.
    1. This Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) is valid from 
October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019.
    2. This IHA is valid only for construction activities associated 
with the Waterfront Bridges Replacement Project in Astoria, Oregon.
    3. General Conditions:
    (a) A copy of this IHA must be in the possession of the City, its 
designees, and work crew personnel operating under the authority of 
this IHA.
    (b) The species authorized for taking are the California sea lion 
(Zalophus californianus), Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus), and 
Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii).
    (c) The taking, by Level B harassment only, is limited to the 
species listed in condition 3(b). The authorized take numbers are shown 
below and in Table 1:
i. 2,604 California sea lions
ii. 3,284 Steller sea lions
iii. 108 Pacific harbor seals

    (d) The taking by injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or 
death of any of the species listed in condition 3(b) of the 
Authorization or any taking of any other species of marine mammal is 
prohibited and may result in the modification, suspension, or 
revocation of this IHA.
    (e) The City shall conduct briefings between construction 
supervisors and crews, marine mammal monitoring team, acoustical 
monitoring team, and City staff prior to the start of all construction 
work, and when new personnel join the work, in order to explain 
responsibilities, communication procedures, marine mammal monitoring 
protocol, and operational procedures.

[[Page 7697]]

4. Mitigation Measures

    The holder of this Authorization is required to implement the 
following mitigation measures:
(a) General Construction Measures
    i. All construction activities shall be performed in accordance 
with the current ODOT Standard Specifications for Construction, the 
Contract Plans, and the Project Special Provisions. In addition, the 
following general construction measures will be adhered to:
    a. All work shall be performed according to the requirements and 
conditions of the regulatory permits issued by federal, state, and 
local governments. Seasonal restrictions, i.e., work windows, shall be 
applied to the Project to avoid or minimize potential impacts to listed 
or proposed species based on agreement with, and the regulatory permits 
issued by Department of State Lands, and USACE in consultation with 
NMFS. The City shall comply with all stipulations from the FAHP 
Biological Opinion for salmonids (i.e., using air bubble curtains).
    b. The City shall have an inspector onsite during construction. The 
role of the inspector is to ensure compliance with the construction 
contract and other permits and regulations. The onsite inspector shall 
also perform marine mammal monitoring duties when protected species 
observers (PSOs) are not onsite (See Proposed Monitoring section).
    c. To ensure no contaminants enter the water, mobile heavy 
equipment shall be stored in a staging area at least 150 ft from the 
river or in an isolated hard zone. Equipment shall be inspected daily 
for fluid leaks before leaving the staging area. Stationary equipment 
operated within 150 ft of the river shall be maintained and protected 
to prevent leaks and spills. Erosion and sediment control BMPs shall be 
installed prior to initiating and construction activities.
    d. All work below the Highest Mean Tide (HMT) shall be completed 
during the ODFW prescribed IWWP of November 1 through February 28.
    e. The contractor shall be responsible for the preparation of a 
Pollution Control Plan (PCP). The PCP shall designate a professional 
on-call spill response team, and identify all contractor activities, 
hazardous substances used, and wastes generated. The PCP shall describe 
how hazardous substances and wastes will be stored, used, contained, 
monitored, disposed of, and documented.
(b) Pile Removal and Installation
    i. The following mitigation measures shall be implemented to 
minimize disturbance during pile removal and installation activities:
    a. An air bubble system shall be employed during impact 
installation unless the piles are driven on dry areas.
    b. The contractor shall implement a soft-start procedure for impact 
pile driving activities. The objective of a soft-start is to provide a 
warning and/or give animals in close proximity to pile driving a chance 
to leave the area prior to an impact driver operation at full capacity, 
thereby exposing fewer animals to loud underwater and airborne sounds. 
A soft-start procedure will be used at the beginning of each day that 
pile installation activities are conducted. For impact driving, an 
initial set of three strikes would be made by the hammer at 40 percent 
energy, followed by a one minute wait period, the two subsequent three-
strike sets at 40 percent energy, with one minute waiting periods, 
before initiating continuous driving.
    c. Monitoring of marine mammals shall take place starting 30 
minutes before construction begins until 30 minutes after construction 
ends.
    d. Before commencement of non-pulse (vibratory) pile removal 
activities, the contractor shall establish a 15 m Level A Exclusion 
Zone (Table 2).
    e. Before commencement of impact pile driving activities, the 
contractor shall establish a 53.4 m Level A Exclusion Zone (Table 2).
    f. Before commencement of above-water construction activities, the 
contractor shall establish a 10 m Level A Exclusion Zone (Table 2).
    g. Prior to initiating in-water pile driving, pile removal, and 
concrete removal activities, the contractor will establish Level B ZOIs 
(Table 2):
    1. The Level B ZOI for all pile removal activities shall be 
established out to a distance of 1,600 m from the pile.
    2. The Level B ZOI for all pile driving activities shall be 
established out to a distance of 398 m from the pile.
    3. The Level B ZOI during rail superstructure demolition and 
construction shall be established out to a distance of 28 m from the 
construction area.
    4. If a marine mammal enters the Level B ZOI, but does not enter 
the Level A Exclusion Zone, a ``take'' shall be recorded and the work 
shall be allowed to proceed without cessation. Marine mammal behavior 
will be monitored and documented.
    5. The City shall shut down operations if a marine mammal is 
sighted within or approaching the Level A Exclusion Zone until the 
marine mammal is sighted moving away from the exclusion zone, or if not 
sighted for 15 minutes after the shutdown. The City shall also shut 
down to prevent Level B takes when the take of a pinnipeds species is 
approaching the authorized take limits.
    h. If the exclusion zone is obscured by poor lighting conditions, 
pile driving shall not be initiated until the entire zone is visible.
    i. In-water work shall only commence once observers have declared 
the Exclusion Zone clear of marine mammals.
    j. A monitoring plan shall be implemented as described below. This 
plan includes Exclusion Zones and specific procedures in the event a 
marine mammal is encountered.

5. Monitoring

    The holder of this Authorization is required to conduct marine 
mammal monitoring during construction activities.
    (a) Protected Species Observers: The contractor shall employ 
qualified Protected Species Observers (PSOs) to monitor the extent of 
the Region of Activity for marine mammals. Qualifications for marine 
mammal observers include:
    i. Visual acuity in both eyes (correction is permissible) 
sufficient for discerning moving targets at the water's surface with 
ability to estimate target size and distance. Use of binoculars is 
necessary to correctly identify the target.
    ii. Advanced education (at least some college level coursework) in 
biological science, wildlife management, mammalogy, or related fields 
(bachelor's degree or higher is preferred but not required).
    iii. Experience or training in the field of identification of 
marine mammals (cetaceans and pinnipeds).
    iv. Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the 
construction operation to provide for personal safety during 
observations.
    v. Ability to communicate orally, by radio or in person, with 
project personnel to provide real time information on marine mammals 
observed in the area as necessary.
    vi. Experience and ability to conduct field observations and 
collect data according to assigned protocols (this may include academic 
experience).
    vii. Writing skills sufficient to prepare a report of observations 
that would include such information as the number and type of marine 
mammals observed; the behavior of marine mammals in the project area; 
dates and times when

[[Page 7698]]

observations were conducted; dates and times when in-water construction 
activities were conducted; and dates and times when marine mammals were 
present at or within the defined Region of Activity.
    ii. Monitoring Schedule: PSOs shall be present onsite during in-
water construction activities as follows:
    i. During vibratory pile removal activities:
    a. Two NMFS qualified observers shall be onsite the first day of 
removal at each bridge, one NMFS qualified observer shall be onsite 
every third day thereafter.
    b. One PSO observer shall be stationed at the best practicable 
land-based vantage point to observe the downstream portion of the 
disturbance zone, and the other positioned at the best practicable 
land-based vantage point to monitor the upstream portion of the 
disturbance zone.
    c. When PSOs are not onsite, the contractor's onsite inspector 
shall be trained in species identification and monitoring protocol, and 
shall be onsite during all pile removal activities to ensure than no 
species enter the 15 m Exclusion Zone.
    ii. During pile driving activities:
    a. Two NMFS qualified observers shall be onsite the first two days 
of pile driving at each bridge, and every third day thereafter.
    b. One PSO shall be stationed at the best practicable land-based 
vantage point to observe the downstream portion of the disturbance and 
exclusion zones, and the other positioned at the best practicable land-
based vantage point to monitor the upstream portion of the disturbance 
and exclusion zones.
    c. When PSOs are not onsite, contractor's onsite inspector shall be 
trained in species identification and monitoring protocol, and shall be 
onsite during all pile driving activities to ensure that no species 
enter the 53.4 m exclusion zone.
    iii. During substructure demolition activities (not including pile 
removal) and superstructure demolition and construction activities:
    a. One PSO shall be onsite once a week to monitor the Exclusion 
Zone within 10 m of the construction site.
    b. When the PSO is not onsite, contractor's inspector shall be 
trained in species identification and monitoring protocol, and shall be 
onsite during all construction activities to ensure that no species 
enter the 10 m Exclusion Zone during superstructure demolition and 
construction activities.
    iii. Monitoring Protocols: PSOs shall monitor marine mammal 
presence within the Level A Exclusion Zone and Level B ZOIs per the 
following protocols:
    i. A range finder or hand-held global positioning system device 
shall be used by PSOs to ensure that the defined Exclusion Zones are 
fully monitored and the Level B ZOIs monitored to the best extent 
practicable.
    ii. A 30-minute pre-construction marine mammal monitoring period 
shall be required before the first pile driving or pile removal of the 
day. A 30-minute post-construction marine mammal monitoring period 
shall be required after the last pile driving or pile removal of the 
day. If the contractor's personnel take a break between subsequent pile 
driving or pile removal for more than 30 minutes, then additional pre-
construction marine mammal monitoring shall be required before the next 
start-up of pile driving or pile removal.
    iii. If marine mammals are observed, the following information 
shall be documented:
    a. Species of observed marine mammals;
    b. Number of observed marine mammal individuals;
    c. Life stages of marine mammals observed;
    d. Behavioral habits, including feeding, of observed marine 
mammals, in both presence and absence of activities;
    e. Location within the Region of Activity; and
    f. Animals' reaction (if any) to pile driving activities or other 
construction-related stressors including:
    1. Impacts to the long-term fitness of the individual animal, if 
any
    2. Long-term impacts to the population, species, or stock (e.g., 
through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival), if any
    g. Overall effectiveness of mitigation measures.
    iv. During vibratory rule removal and impact driving, qualified 
PSOs shall monitor the Level B ZOIs from the best practicable land-
based vantage point to observe the downstream and upstream portions of 
the disturbance zone according to the above schedule.
    v. PSOs shall use binoculars to monitor the Region of Activity.

6. Reporting

    The holder of this Authorization is required to:
    (a) Submit a draft report on all monitoring conducted under the IHA 
within 90 calendar days of the completion of construction work. This 
report must contain the informational elements described in the 
Monitoring Plan, at minimum, and shall also include:
    i. Detailed information about any implementation of shutdowns, 
including the distance of animals to the pile and description of 
specific actions that ensued and resulting behavior of the animal, if 
any.
    (b) If comments are received from the NMFS West Coast Regional 
Administrator or NMFS Office of Protected Resources on the draft 
report, a final report shall be submitted to NMFS within 30 days 
thereafter. If no comments are received from NMFS, the draft report 
will be considered to be the final report.
    (c) Reporting injured or dead marine mammals:
    i. In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly 
causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by this IHA, 
such as an injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or mortality, 
the City shall immediately cease the specified activities and report 
the incident to the Office of Protected Resources (301-427-8401), NMFS, 
and the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator (206-526-4747), NMFS. 
The report must include the following information:
    i. Time and date of the incident;
    ii. Description of the incident;
    iii. Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, 
Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);
    iv. Description of all marine mammal observations and active sound 
source use in the 24 hours preceding the incident;
    v. Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;
    vi. Fate of the animal(s); and
    vii. Photographs or video footage of the animal(s).
    Activities shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the 
circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS will work with the City to 
determine what measures are necessary to minimize the likelihood of 
further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. The City may not 
resume their activities until notified by NMFS.
    ii. In the event that the City discovers an injured or dead marine 
mammal, and the lead observer determines that the cause of the injury 
or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (e.g., in less 
than a moderate state of decomposition), the City shall immediately 
report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the 
West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS.
    The report must include the same information identified in 6(b)(i) 
of this IHA. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the 
circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with the City

[[Page 7699]]

to determine whether additional mitigation measures or modifications to 
the activities are appropriate.
    iii. In the event that the City discovers an injured or dead marine 
mammal, and the lead observer determines that the injury or death is 
not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA 
(e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced 
decomposition, or scavenger damage), the City shall report the incident 
to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the West Coast Regional 
Stranding Coordinator, NMFS, within 24 hours of the discovery. The City 
shall provide photographs or video footage or other documentation of 
the stranded animal sighting to NMFS.
    This Authorization may be modified, suspended or withdrawn if the 
holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein, or if NMFS 
determines the authorized taking is having more than a negligible 
impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammals.

              Table 1--Authorized Take Numbers, by Species
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Authorized
                          Species                                take
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina)...............................          108
California sea lion (Zalophus californianus)...............        2,604
Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus)......................        3,284
------------------------------------------------------------------------


           Table 2--Minimum Radial Distance to Shutdown Zones
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Level B Zone of    Level A  Exclusion
            Activity                  Influence              Zone
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vibratory pile removal.........  1,600 m...........  15 m.
Impact pile driving............  398 m.............  53.4 m.
Roadway and railway demolition   28 m (harbor        10 m.
 and construction.                seals) 9 m (sea
                                  lions).
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Request for Public Comments

    We request comment on our analyses, the proposed authorization, and 
any other aspect of this Notice of Proposed IHA for the proposed bridge 
replacement project. We also request comment on the potential for 
renewal of this proposed IHA as described in the paragraph below. 
Please include with your comments any supporting data or literature 
citations to help inform our final decision on the request for MMPA 
authorization.
    On a case-by-case basis, NMFS may issue a second one-year IHA 
without additional notice when (1) another year of identical or nearly 
identical activities as described in the Specified Activities section 
is planned or (2) the activities would not be completed by the time the 
IHA expires and a second IHA would allow for completion of the 
activities beyond that described in the Dates and Duration section, 
provided all of the following conditions are met:
     A request for renewal is received no later than 60 days 
prior to expiration of the current IHA.
     The request for renewal must include the following:
    (1) An explanation that the activities to be conducted beyond the 
initial dates either are identical to the previously analyzed 
activities or include changes so minor (e.g., reduction in pile size) 
that the changes do not affect the previous analyses, take estimates, 
or mitigation and monitoring requirements.
    (2) A preliminary monitoring report showing the results of the 
required monitoring to date and an explanation showing that the 
monitoring results do not indicate impacts of a scale or nature not 
previously analyzed or authorized.
     Upon review of the request for renewal, the status of the 
affected species or stocks, and any other pertinent information, NMFS 
determines that there are no more than minor changes in the activities, 
the mitigation and monitoring measures remain the same and appropriate, 
and the original findings remain valid.

    Dated: February 16, 2018.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2018-03615 Filed 2-21-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P