Otay River Estuary Restoration Project, South San Diego Bay Unit of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, California; Final Environmental Impact Statement, 23289-23291 [2018-10630]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 97 / Friday, May 18, 2018 / Notices with the cumulative effects of other permitted take and additional factors affecting eagle populations, are compatible with the preservation of bald eagles and golden eagles. Proposed Action The permit applicant, Northern States Power Company—Minnesota, doing business as Xcel Energy, is operating an approximately 200.5-megatwatt commercial wind energy facility in Stutsman County, North Dakota. The 100-turbine project, sited entirely on private land, became operational on December 1, 2016. The applicant developed an ECP based on our guidance contained in the Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance Module 1: Land-Based Wind Energy Version 2 (Service 2013) (ECP Guidance) (https://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/ pdf/management/eagleconservation planguidance.pdf). As recommended in the Service’s ECP Guidance, the applicant’s plan outlines avoidance and minimization measures, contains a risk assessment, and includes advanced conservation practices and adaptive management. The applicant submitted the ECP as part of the permit application, and if we issue the permit, then the conservation commitments would become conditions of the permit. The Service independently evaluated the risk of bald eagle fatalities from project operations and compared that risk to the conservation measures to which the applicant committed. We used our Collision Risk Model to estimate the number of annual bald eagle fatalities resulting from operation and maintenance of the project. This is an essential step in the Service’s evaluation of an application for a permit for take of eagles because issuing criteria require permitted take to comply with the Eagle Act’s preservation standard. In the DEA, we evaluate the risk and offsetting conservation measures, and the implications for direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of issuing a permit and a No Action alternative. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES National Environmental Policy Act Compliance Our consideration of whether or not to issue a 5-year ETP is an action subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Our DEA analyzes the risk of bald eagle take associated with operation and maintenance of the project, and assesses the potential effects of permit issuance and a No Action alternative (i.e., do not issue an ETP) on the human and natural environment. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:38 May 17, 2018 Jkt 244001 23289 Public Comments DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR We invite public comment on the proposed DEA. If you wish, you may submit comments by any one of the methods discussed in ADDRESSES. We will consider public comments on the DEA when making the final determination on NEPA compliance and permit issuance. Fish and Wildlife Service Public Availability of Comments All comments and materials we receive become part of the public record associated with this action. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their entirety. Next Steps The public process for the proposed Federal permit action will be completed after the public comment period, at which time we will evaluate the permit application and comments submitted thereupon to determine whether the application meets the permitting requirements under the Eagle Act, applicable regulations, and NEPA requirements. Upon completion of that evaluation, we will select our course of action. Authority We provide this notice under section 668a of the Eagle Act (16 U.S.C. 668– 668d) and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6 and 43 CFR 46.300). Matt Hogan, Deputy Regional Director, USFWS MountainPrairie Region, Lakewood, Colorado. [FR Doc. 2018–10629 Filed 5–17–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 [FWS–R8–R–2018–N008; FF08RSDC00– 189–F1611MD–FXRS12610800000] Otay River Estuary Restoration Project, South San Diego Bay Unit of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, California; Final Environmental Impact Statement Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability; final environmental impact statement. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability of a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for a proposed project to restore coastal wetlands at the south end of San Diego Bay. The Otay River Estuary Restoration Project is located within the South San Diego Bay Unit of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in San Diego County, California. This notice advises the public that the final EIS is now available to the public. The final EIS describes the alternatives identified to restore two portions of the South San Diego Bay Unit of the San Diego Bay NWR to coastal wetlands to benefit native fish, wildlife, and plant species. ADDRESSES: Document Availability: You may obtain copies of the EIS and related documents in the following places: • Internet: https://www.fws.gov/ refuge/San_Diego_Bay/what_we_do/ Resource_Management/Otay_ Restoration.html. • In Person: Æ San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex Headquarters, 1080 Gunpowder Point Drive, Chula Vista, CA 91910; telephone: 619–476–9150, extension 103. Æ Chula Vista Public Library, Civic Center Branch, 365 F Street, Chula Vista, CA 91910; telephone: 619–691– 5069. Æ San Diego County Library, Imperial Beach Branch Library, 810 Imperial Beach Blvd. Imperial Beach, CA 91932; telephone: 619–424–6981. Æ Chula Vista Public Library, South Chula Vista Branch, 389 Orange Avenue, Chula Vista, CA 91911; telephone: 619–585–5755. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Collins, Refuge Manager, San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge at 619–575–2704, extension 302 (telephone) or brian_collins@fws.gov (email); or Andy Yuen, Project Leader, 619–476–9150, extension 100 (telephone), or andy_yuen@fws.gov (email). SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\18MYN1.SGM 18MYN1 23290 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 97 / Friday, May 18, 2018 / Notices SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES National Environmental Policy Act Compliance We are conducting environmental review for the proposed Otay River Estuary Restoration Project in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, as amended (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), its implementing regulations in 40 CFR 1500–1508), other applicable regulations, and our procedures for compliance with those regulations. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is participating as a cooperating agency in preparation of the EIS. On November 14, 2011, we published in the Federal Register a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Otay project (76 FR 70480). Based on information developed after the scoping period, the proposed area of the project was expanded, so on January 8, 2013, we published a notice to reinitiate the scoping process (78 FR 1246). We announced the availability of the draft EIS for public comment on October 21, 2016 (81 FR 72817), and reopened the comment period on December 27, 2016 (81 FR 95176). In accordance with 40 CFR 1506.6, we now announce the availability of the final EIS. In addition to our publication of this notice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing a notice announcing the final EIS, as required under section 309 of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.). The publication date of EPA’s notice of availability in the Federal Register is the start of the 30-day wait period required for the final EIS. (See EPA’s Role in the EIS Process, below, for further information.) We will make a decision on the alternatives presented in the EIS no sooner than 30 days after the publication of the final EIS. We anticipate issuing a Record of Decision (ROD) in 2018. Background In 2006, we completed a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and EIS/ROD to guide the management of the San Diego Bay NWR over a 15year period (71 FR 64552, November 2, 2006). The wildlife and habitat management goal of the selected management alternative in the CCP for the South San Diego Bay Unit is to ‘‘Protect, manage, enhance, and restore . . . coastal wetlands . . . to benefit the native fish, wildlife, and plant species supported within the South San Diego Bay Unit.’’ One of the strategies identified to meet this goal is to restore VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:38 May 17, 2018 Jkt 244001 native habitats in the Otay River floodplain and the salt ponds. On November 15, 2007, the California Coastal Commission (Commission) approved a coastal development permit (CDP No. E–06–013) for a proposal by Poseidon Resources (Channelside) LP (Poseidon) to construct and operate a desalination facility in Carlsbad, California. As part of that approval, the Commission required Poseidon, through special condition 8, to submit for additional Commission review and approval a marine life mitigation plan (MLMP) to address the impacts to be caused by the facility’s use of estuarine water and its entrainment of marine organisms. The MLMP was conditionally approved by the Commission on August 6, 2008 (CCC 2008). With the incorporation of the Commission’s revisions, the MLMP was finalized on November 21, 2008. The MLMP requires that Poseidon submit a proposed mitigation site and preliminary restoration plan that achieves the following mitigation requirements: • Create or substantially restore tidal wetland habitat, preferably in the San Diego Region; • Restore at least 66.4 acres of coastal wetland habitat as mitigation at a maximum of two sites; • The chosen site must be available and protected against future degradation; and • Fish productivity must be at least 1,717.5 kg/year. Project On September 29, 2010, the San Diego NWR Complex and Poseidon entered into a memorandum of understanding to establish a partnership to facilitate the restoration of property within the San Diego Bay NWR, consistent with the CCP and the Commission’s permit requirements for Poseidon. The proposed restoration project represents step-down restoration planning for the western portion of the Otay River floodplain and one of the salt ponds within the Refuge’s solar salt pond complex. Funding for the proposed restoration is being provided by the Poseidon Resources Carlsbad Desalination Project to fulfill part of the mitigation requirements imposed by the Commission and the Regional Water Quality Control Board for the construction of a desalination plant in Carlsbad. The proposed action site is located at the south end of San Diego Bay, San Diego County, California, within the South San Diego Bay Unit of the San Diego Bay NWR. Restoration activities will occur at two separate locations PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 within the Refuge: The Otay River Floodplain Site and the Pond 15 Site. Specifically, the approximately 34-acre Otay River Floodplain Site is located west of Interstate 5 (I–5) between Main Street to the north and Palm Avenue to the south in San Diego. The Pond 15 Site consists of an approximately 91acre active solar salt pond located in the northeast portion of the Refuge, to the northwest of the intersection of Bay Boulevard and Palomar Street in Chula Vista. Alternatives The site-specific EIS for the Otay project tiers from the 2006 programmatic EIS and ROD prepared for the Refuge CCP. We analyzed three alternatives in this final EIS: Alternative A: No Action Alternative Under the No Action Alternative, the disturbed areas within the Otay River Floodplain Site would not be restored or enhanced to coastal wetlands to benefit native species, and the Pond 15 Site would not be restored to tidally influenced subtidal and intertidal habitat. Under this alternative, Pond 15 would remain part of an existing commercial solar salt operation, and periodic maintenance to control nonnative plants would continue to occur on the Otay River Floodplain Site in conjunction with ongoing management of the Refuge. Alternative B: Intertidal Alternative (Proposed Action) The Intertidal Alternative, Alternative B, is the proposed action. The proposed action would involve lowering the elevation and contouring the Otay River Floodplain Site to create approximately 29.8 acres of tidally influenced habitat, consisting of approximately 5.1 acres of intertidal mudflat and 24.7 acres of intertidal salt marsh habitat through altering elevations on the site. In addition, the restored area would include approximately 3.7 acres of upland habitat. The proposed action would also involve raising the elevation and contouring the Pond 15 Site to create approximately 10.4 acres of subtidal habitat, 18.4 acres of intertidal mudflat, 57.3 acres of intertidal salt marsh habitat, about 1 acre of high-tide refugia, and 3.9 acres of upland habitat. Both sites would be planted with a mix of native wetland vegetation that would mature into low-marsh, mid-marsh, and high-marsh vegetative communities. The intertidal areas and the unvegetated mudflat would provide foraging habitat for adult and juvenile fish, which then form the foraging base of the food chain E:\FR\FM\18MYN1.SGM 18MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 97 / Friday, May 18, 2018 / Notices daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES that would benefit larger fish, birds, and other species on and off the site. Implementation of the proposed action would involve the excavation of approximately 320,000 cubic yards of material from the Otay River Site and the transport of 260,000 cubic yards of this material to the Pond 15 Site for use in creating tidal elevations that would support the desired intertidal habitats and improving levees to separate Pond 15 from the remaining active solar salt operation. The combination of the wetlands created at the Otay River Floodplain Site and Pond 15 Site under the proposed action would provide sufficient mitigation credit to meet the MLMP requirements. Alternative C: Subtidal Alternative Alternative C, the Subtidal Alternative, would involve lowering the Otay River Floodplain Site to an elevation lower than that proposed under Alternative B (proposed action) to create a subtidal channel within the Otay River Floodplain Site. Under the Subtidal Alternative, the subtidal zone would be surrounded by mudflats and increasing elevation of salt marsh. Specifically, the Subtidal Alternative would involve lowering the elevation and contouring the Otay River Floodplain Site to create approximately 4.5 acres of subtidal habitat, approximately 6.5 acres of intertidal mudflat, 18.7 acres of intertidal salt marsh habitat, and approximately 3.7 acres of upland habitat. The Subtidal Alternative would also involve raising the elevation and contouring the Pond 15 Site to create tidally influenced habitat that would be similar to that proposed under Alternative B, with approximately 9.8 acres of subtidal habitat, 16.3 acres of intertidal mudflat, 58.7 acres of intertidal salt marsh, approximately 2.2 acres of high-tide refugia, and 4.0 acres of upland habitat. Both sites would be planted with a mix of native wetland vegetation that would mature into low-marsh, mid-marsh, and high-marsh vegetative communities. The subtidal areas would provide fish spawning and foraging habitat, and the unvegetated mudflat would provide foraging habitat for adult and juvenile fish during high tides. Combined, the subtidal and mudflat areas would provide habitat for the basis of the food chain that would benefit larger fish, birds, and other species on and off the site. Implementation of the Subtidal Alternative would involve the excavation of approximately 370,000 cubic yards of material from the Otay River Site and the transport of 312,000 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:38 May 17, 2018 Jkt 244001 cubic yards of this material to the Pond 15 Site for use in creating tidal elevations that would support the desired intertidal habitats and improving levees to separate Pond 15 from the remaining active solar salt operation. The combination of the wetlands created at the Otay River Floodplain Site and Pond 15 Site under the Subtidal Alternative would also provide sufficient mitigation credit to meet the MLMP requirements. EPA’s Role in the EIS Process The EPA is charged, under section 309 of the Clean Air Act, to review all Federal agencies’ EISs and to comment on the adequacy and the acceptability of the environmental impacts of proposed actions in the EISs. EPA also serves as the repository for EISs prepared by Federal agencies and provides notice of their availability in the Federal Register. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Database provides information about EISs prepared by Federal agencies, as well as EPA’s comments concerning the EISs. All EISs are filed with EPA, which publishes a notice of availability on Fridays in the Federal Register. The notice of availability is the start of the 30-day ‘‘wait period’’ for final EISs, during which agencies are generally required to wait 30 days before making a decision on a proposed action. For more information, see https://www.epa.gov/nepa. You may search for EPA comments on EISs, along with EISs themselves, at https:// cdxnodengn.epa.gov/cdx-enepa-public/ action/eis/search. Paul Souza, Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region. [FR Doc. 2018–10630 Filed 5–17–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–HQ–ES–2018–N063; FF09E42000 178 FXES11130900000] Endangered and Threatened Species; Issuance of Enhancement of Survival and Incidental Take Permits January 2, 2017 Through December 29, 2017 Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in accordance with section 10(d) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as amended, provide a list to the public of the permits issued under SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 23291 sections 10(a)(1)(A) and 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. With some exceptions, the ESA prohibits take of listed species unless a Federal permit is issued that authorizes the taking or is exempted through section 7 of the ESA. Under section 10(a)(1)(A), we issue enhancement of survival permits in conjunction with candidate conservation agreements with assurances (CCAA) and safe harbor agreements (SHA). Section 10(a)(1)(A) also authorizes recovery permits, but this notice is limited to permits issued with CCAAs and SHAs; issued recovery permits will be summarized in a separate notice. Section 10(a)(1)(B) permits authorize take of endangered and threatened species incidental to otherwise lawful activities associated with habitat conservation plans. We provide this list to the public as a summary of our permit issuances for calendar year 2017. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For general information about the ESA permit process, contact Karen Anderson, 703–358–2301, karen_ anderson@fws.gov. For information on specific permits, see the contact information below in Permits Issued. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Under the authority of section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; ESA), we have issued permits to conduct activities that provide a conservation benefit for endangered or threatened species, or for unlisted species should they become listed in the future, in response to permit applications that we received in conjunction with a CCAA or SHA. Under section 10(a)(1)(B), we may issue permits for any taking otherwise prohibited by section 9 if such taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity (known as an incidental take permit (ITP)) and the permit applicant submits a habitat conservation plan (HCP) that meets the permit issuance criteria under section 10(a)(2)(B). Typically, applicants seek an ITP to conduct activities such as residential and commercial development, infrastructure development or maintenance, and energy development projects that range in scale from small to landscape-level planning efforts. We issued the permits listed below between January 17 and December 27, 2017. Under section 10(a)(1)(A), we issued each permit only after we determined that it was applied for in good faith, that granting the permit E:\FR\FM\18MYN1.SGM 18MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 97 (Friday, May 18, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 23289-23291]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-10630]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-R-2018-N008; FF08RSDC00-189-F1611MD-FXRS12610800000]


Otay River Estuary Restoration Project, South San Diego Bay Unit 
of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, California; Final 
Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; final environmental impact statement.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the 
availability of a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for a 
proposed project to restore coastal wetlands at the south end of San 
Diego Bay. The Otay River Estuary Restoration Project is located within 
the South San Diego Bay Unit of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife 
Refuge (NWR) in San Diego County, California. This notice advises the 
public that the final EIS is now available to the public. The final EIS 
describes the alternatives identified to restore two portions of the 
South San Diego Bay Unit of the San Diego Bay NWR to coastal wetlands 
to benefit native fish, wildlife, and plant species.

ADDRESSES: Document Availability: You may obtain copies of the EIS and 
related documents in the following places:
     Internet: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/San_Diego_Bay/what_we_do/Resource_Management/Otay_Restoration.html.
     In Person:
    [cir] San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex Headquarters, 1080 
Gunpowder Point Drive, Chula Vista, CA 91910; telephone: 619-476-9150, 
extension 103.
    [cir] Chula Vista Public Library, Civic Center Branch, 365 F 
Street, Chula Vista, CA 91910; telephone: 619-691-5069.
    [cir] San Diego County Library, Imperial Beach Branch Library, 810 
Imperial Beach Blvd. Imperial Beach, CA 91932; telephone: 619-424-6981.
    [cir] Chula Vista Public Library, South Chula Vista Branch, 389 
Orange Avenue, Chula Vista, CA 91911; telephone: 619-585-5755.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Collins, Refuge Manager, San 
Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge at 619-575-2704, extension 302 
(telephone) or [email protected] (email); or Andy Yuen, Project 
Leader, 619-476-9150, extension 100 (telephone), or [email protected] 
(email).

[[Page 23290]]


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    We are conducting environmental review for the proposed Otay River 
Estuary Restoration Project in accordance with the requirements of the 
National Environmental Policy Act, as amended (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.), its implementing regulations in 40 CFR 1500-1508), other 
applicable regulations, and our procedures for compliance with those 
regulations. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is participating as a 
cooperating agency in preparation of the EIS. On November 14, 2011, we 
published in the Federal Register a notice of intent to prepare an 
environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Otay project (76 FR 
70480). Based on information developed after the scoping period, the 
proposed area of the project was expanded, so on January 8, 2013, we 
published a notice to reinitiate the scoping process (78 FR 1246). We 
announced the availability of the draft EIS for public comment on 
October 21, 2016 (81 FR 72817), and reopened the comment period on 
December 27, 2016 (81 FR 95176). In accordance with 40 CFR 1506.6, we 
now announce the availability of the final EIS.
    In addition to our publication of this notice, the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing a notice announcing 
the final EIS, as required under section 309 of the Clean Air Act (42 
U.S.C. 7401 et seq.). The publication date of EPA's notice of 
availability in the Federal Register is the start of the 30-day wait 
period required for the final EIS. (See EPA's Role in the EIS Process, 
below, for further information.)
    We will make a decision on the alternatives presented in the EIS no 
sooner than 30 days after the publication of the final EIS. We 
anticipate issuing a Record of Decision (ROD) in 2018.

Background

    In 2006, we completed a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and 
EIS/ROD to guide the management of the San Diego Bay NWR over a 15-year 
period (71 FR 64552, November 2, 2006). The wildlife and habitat 
management goal of the selected management alternative in the CCP for 
the South San Diego Bay Unit is to ``Protect, manage, enhance, and 
restore . . . coastal wetlands . . . to benefit the native fish, 
wildlife, and plant species supported within the South San Diego Bay 
Unit.'' One of the strategies identified to meet this goal is to 
restore native habitats in the Otay River floodplain and the salt 
ponds.
    On November 15, 2007, the California Coastal Commission 
(Commission) approved a coastal development permit (CDP No. E-06-013) 
for a proposal by Poseidon Resources (Channelside) LP (Poseidon) to 
construct and operate a desalination facility in Carlsbad, California. 
As part of that approval, the Commission required Poseidon, through 
special condition 8, to submit for additional Commission review and 
approval a marine life mitigation plan (MLMP) to address the impacts to 
be caused by the facility's use of estuarine water and its entrainment 
of marine organisms. The MLMP was conditionally approved by the 
Commission on August 6, 2008 (CCC 2008). With the incorporation of the 
Commission's revisions, the MLMP was finalized on November 21, 2008. 
The MLMP requires that Poseidon submit a proposed mitigation site and 
preliminary restoration plan that achieves the following mitigation 
requirements:
     Create or substantially restore tidal wetland habitat, 
preferably in the San Diego Region;
     Restore at least 66.4 acres of coastal wetland habitat as 
mitigation at a maximum of two sites;
     The chosen site must be available and protected against 
future degradation; and
     Fish productivity must be at least 1,717.5 kg/year.

Project

    On September 29, 2010, the San Diego NWR Complex and Poseidon 
entered into a memorandum of understanding to establish a partnership 
to facilitate the restoration of property within the San Diego Bay NWR, 
consistent with the CCP and the Commission's permit requirements for 
Poseidon. The proposed restoration project represents step-down 
restoration planning for the western portion of the Otay River 
floodplain and one of the salt ponds within the Refuge's solar salt 
pond complex. Funding for the proposed restoration is being provided by 
the Poseidon Resources Carlsbad Desalination Project to fulfill part of 
the mitigation requirements imposed by the Commission and the Regional 
Water Quality Control Board for the construction of a desalination 
plant in Carlsbad.
    The proposed action site is located at the south end of San Diego 
Bay, San Diego County, California, within the South San Diego Bay Unit 
of the San Diego Bay NWR. Restoration activities will occur at two 
separate locations within the Refuge: The Otay River Floodplain Site 
and the Pond 15 Site. Specifically, the approximately 34-acre Otay 
River Floodplain Site is located west of Interstate 5 (I-5) between 
Main Street to the north and Palm Avenue to the south in San Diego. The 
Pond 15 Site consists of an approximately 91-acre active solar salt 
pond located in the northeast portion of the Refuge, to the northwest 
of the intersection of Bay Boulevard and Palomar Street in Chula Vista.

Alternatives

    The site-specific EIS for the Otay project tiers from the 2006 
programmatic EIS and ROD prepared for the Refuge CCP. We analyzed three 
alternatives in this final EIS:

Alternative A: No Action Alternative

    Under the No Action Alternative, the disturbed areas within the 
Otay River Floodplain Site would not be restored or enhanced to coastal 
wetlands to benefit native species, and the Pond 15 Site would not be 
restored to tidally influenced subtidal and intertidal habitat. Under 
this alternative, Pond 15 would remain part of an existing commercial 
solar salt operation, and periodic maintenance to control non-native 
plants would continue to occur on the Otay River Floodplain Site in 
conjunction with ongoing management of the Refuge.

Alternative B: Intertidal Alternative (Proposed Action)

    The Intertidal Alternative, Alternative B, is the proposed action. 
The proposed action would involve lowering the elevation and contouring 
the Otay River Floodplain Site to create approximately 29.8 acres of 
tidally influenced habitat, consisting of approximately 5.1 acres of 
intertidal mudflat and 24.7 acres of intertidal salt marsh habitat 
through altering elevations on the site. In addition, the restored area 
would include approximately 3.7 acres of upland habitat. The proposed 
action would also involve raising the elevation and contouring the Pond 
15 Site to create approximately 10.4 acres of subtidal habitat, 18.4 
acres of intertidal mudflat, 57.3 acres of intertidal salt marsh 
habitat, about 1 acre of high-tide refugia, and 3.9 acres of upland 
habitat. Both sites would be planted with a mix of native wetland 
vegetation that would mature into low-marsh, mid-marsh, and high-marsh 
vegetative communities. The intertidal areas and the unvegetated 
mudflat would provide foraging habitat for adult and juvenile fish, 
which then form the foraging base of the food chain

[[Page 23291]]

that would benefit larger fish, birds, and other species on and off the 
site.
    Implementation of the proposed action would involve the excavation 
of approximately 320,000 cubic yards of material from the Otay River 
Site and the transport of 260,000 cubic yards of this material to the 
Pond 15 Site for use in creating tidal elevations that would support 
the desired intertidal habitats and improving levees to separate Pond 
15 from the remaining active solar salt operation.
    The combination of the wetlands created at the Otay River 
Floodplain Site and Pond 15 Site under the proposed action would 
provide sufficient mitigation credit to meet the MLMP requirements.

Alternative C: Subtidal Alternative

    Alternative C, the Subtidal Alternative, would involve lowering the 
Otay River Floodplain Site to an elevation lower than that proposed 
under Alternative B (proposed action) to create a subtidal channel 
within the Otay River Floodplain Site. Under the Subtidal Alternative, 
the subtidal zone would be surrounded by mudflats and increasing 
elevation of salt marsh. Specifically, the Subtidal Alternative would 
involve lowering the elevation and contouring the Otay River Floodplain 
Site to create approximately 4.5 acres of subtidal habitat, 
approximately 6.5 acres of intertidal mudflat, 18.7 acres of intertidal 
salt marsh habitat, and approximately 3.7 acres of upland habitat. The 
Subtidal Alternative would also involve raising the elevation and 
contouring the Pond 15 Site to create tidally influenced habitat that 
would be similar to that proposed under Alternative B, with 
approximately 9.8 acres of subtidal habitat, 16.3 acres of intertidal 
mudflat, 58.7 acres of intertidal salt marsh, approximately 2.2 acres 
of high-tide refugia, and 4.0 acres of upland habitat. Both sites would 
be planted with a mix of native wetland vegetation that would mature 
into low-marsh, mid-marsh, and high-marsh vegetative communities. The 
subtidal areas would provide fish spawning and foraging habitat, and 
the unvegetated mudflat would provide foraging habitat for adult and 
juvenile fish during high tides. Combined, the subtidal and mudflat 
areas would provide habitat for the basis of the food chain that would 
benefit larger fish, birds, and other species on and off the site.
    Implementation of the Subtidal Alternative would involve the 
excavation of approximately 370,000 cubic yards of material from the 
Otay River Site and the transport of 312,000 cubic yards of this 
material to the Pond 15 Site for use in creating tidal elevations that 
would support the desired intertidal habitats and improving levees to 
separate Pond 15 from the remaining active solar salt operation.
    The combination of the wetlands created at the Otay River 
Floodplain Site and Pond 15 Site under the Subtidal Alternative would 
also provide sufficient mitigation credit to meet the MLMP 
requirements.

EPA's Role in the EIS Process

    The EPA is charged, under section 309 of the Clean Air Act, to 
review all Federal agencies' EISs and to comment on the adequacy and 
the acceptability of the environmental impacts of proposed actions in 
the EISs.
    EPA also serves as the repository for EISs prepared by Federal 
agencies and provides notice of their availability in the Federal 
Register. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Database provides 
information about EISs prepared by Federal agencies, as well as EPA's 
comments concerning the EISs. All EISs are filed with EPA, which 
publishes a notice of availability on Fridays in the Federal Register.
    The notice of availability is the start of the 30-day ``wait 
period'' for final EISs, during which agencies are generally required 
to wait 30 days before making a decision on a proposed action. For more 
information, see https://www.epa.gov/nepa. You may search for EPA 
comments on EISs, along with EISs themselves, at https://cdxnodengn.epa.gov/cdx-enepa-public/action/eis/search.

Paul Souza,
Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region.
[FR Doc. 2018-10630 Filed 5-17-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P