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Abbotts Lagoon Coastal Dune Restoration Project: Compliance Documents


In 2009, the Seashore completed the necessary compliance needed to move forward with the pilot project. A Finding of No Significant Impact was signed in June 2009, which concluded National Environmental Policy Act compliance for the pilot and the larger restoration project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has verified that there are no potential jurisdictional Section 404 wetlands present in the Project Area, and, therefore, there are no areas subject to Section 401 jurisdiction by the Regional Water Quality Control Board, either. The Seashore received a concurrence letter from the California Coastal Commission that the project would not affect the coastal zone and. therefore, does not require a consistency determination. The proposed project is also compatible with the requirements of the Seashore's approved Biological Opinion for Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act for the overall project, which was received from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in spring 2009.


EA for Abbotts Lagoon Dune Restoration Project

In winter 2009, the Seashore released the Abbotts Lagoon Area, Dune Restoration Plan and Environment Assessment (EA) (4,607 KB PDF), which focuses on improving and restoring coastal dune habitat directly south of Abbotts Lagoon, for public review.

Part of project planning is the examination of environmental impacts through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. Because no significant impacts are expected to occur, the Seashore has prepared an environmental assessment, rather than an environmental impact statement.

In the National Park Service, the public is asked to comment on the EA or any other aspect of the proposal in an early 45-day comment period. The 45-day public comment period ended on March 20, 2009. In addition to releasing the EA, the Seashore also held a public information meeting on Wednesday, March 11, at 6:00 p.m. in the Red Barn.

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Options for treating different subsets of the 300-acre project area now slated for Ammophila removal were initially developed after public scoping and refined using value analysis. Alternatives presented in the project EA evaluate different approaches to achieving restoration within the 300-acre project area. Alternative C would achieve restoration objectives using mechanical excavation treatments with potential re-treatment of resprouts with minimal use of herbicides through spot spraying of herbicides, and Alternative B that would treat all 300 acres using use a combination of treatment methods including fire and herbicides in addition to mechanical excavation. Alternative A is the No Action Alternative and would continue the present program of small-scale eradication projects.

The preferred alternative is Alternative C, which emphasizes Mechanical Control Methods. The preferred alternative was selected after initial assessment and comparison of the potential impacts associated with four alternatives. Both Alternatives B and C would equally improve the condition of resources in the long term, but Alternative C would have fewer adverse impacts and therefore result in less loss of resource during implementation. Cost was considered as well, but was secondary to the alternative’s ability to meet the primary objective of resource protection.

Previous work on experimental plots in the Seashore and elsewhere have indicated that the most effective treatment to restore dunes where these invasive species exist is to remove all biomass and bury it deep under a cap of clean sand. This requires the use of heavy motorized equipment. Small scale hand removal to protect resources (where Ammophila is interspersed with wetland or rare vegetation for example) and the minimal use of herbicides to minimize resprouts would also occur. (Herbicide is being included as a potential retreatment option, because other projects have demonstrated that Ammophila removal is not as effective without some use of herbicide.) Small experimental burns are also possible.

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Any restoration work would be accomplished within the constraints imposed by laws, policies and sound management practices including environmental protection measures. For example, no heavy equipment would be used within 500 feet of where snowy plovers are nesting, and surveys and flagging would prevent impacts from excavators to sensitive plant and animal species. In addition, a minimal amount of herbicides would be used only in selected areas with protective buffers established adjacent to wetlands, rare plants, nesting areas, and adjacent land uses and would involve only a very controlled application of herbicide directly to resprouts.

Consultation on potential impacts on to listed special status species has been conducted with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, with the Biological Opinion finalized in spring 2009. In addition, because the project area is located within the coastal zone, and will result in modification to wetland resources, the project will also require review of by, and permits from the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, US Army Corps of Engineers, and federal consistency review by the California Coastal Commission.

Abbotts Lagoon Area Dune Restoration Plan Finding of No Significant Impact – June 25, 2009 (1,289 KB PDF)

Abbotts Lagoon Area Dune Restoration Plan Environmental Assessment – January 2009 (4,607 KB PDF)

Abbotts Lagoon Area Dune Restoration Plan Environmental Assessment: Errata – June 25, 2009 (1,802 KB PDF)

Letter to Interested Parties - February 9, 2009 (43 KB PDF)

Restore Critical Dune Habitat Flyer - October 14, 2005 (220 KB PDF)

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After reviewing comments on the Environmental Assessment (EA), the Seashore selected Alternative C, the preferred alternative, as the alternative to be implemented. For a more complete description of the alternatives, including Alternative C, please see the EA section below. In selecting the action to be implemented, comments by the public and other organizations and agencies were considered. While few letters were received, those submitted advocated implementation of the preferred alternative. None of the public comment letters required any modification to the alternatives, including the Preferred Alternative, so the Selected Alternative is the same as the Preferred Alternative in the EA.

The Finding of No Significant Impact, which indicates completion of all compliance requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act, was signed by the Park Service in June 2009. Feel free to download a copy of the signed FONSI (1,289 KB PDF) and the separate Errata section (1,802 KB PDF) that contains minor changes made to the draft document as a result of public and internal comment.

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Did You Know?

Deathcap Mushrooms © John Lennie

Deathcap mushrooms are found throughout the Point Reyes region and are the most poisonous mushrooms in the world. But they're fairly new arrivals here. They invaded the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1930s, likely brought over on cork trees from Europe for the wine industry. More...