Point Reyes National Seashore Announces Public Scoping for the Preparation of an Environmental Assessment for the Lagunitas Creek Winter Habitat and Floodplain Enhancement Project

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Date: December 10, 2015
Contact: John Dell'Osso, 415-464-5135

On December 11, 2015, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Park Service (NPS) is beginning the preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA) for Phase I of a Winter Habitat and Floodplain Enhancement Project on Lagunitas Creek. The project is proposed by the Marin Municipal Water District (the district) as part of the district's efforts to improve habitat for coho salmon and steelhead. The proposed locations for habitat enhancement are within NPS lands in western Marin County administered by Point Reyes National Seashore. As such, the proposed project requires NPS approval through a public NEPA planning process. Compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act has already been completed by the funding agency, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), through the 2015 Mitigated Negative Declaration for projects funded the CDFW’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program.

Public scoping is the first step to involve the public in the NEPA process. Its objective is to engage agencies, organizations, and the public early in the EA development process and to receive input on the proposed action, environmental issues that should be addressed in the EA, potential project alternatives, and sources of data that should be considered. Scoping allows agency and public concerns to be identified early and helps focus the analysis on important issues.

The purpose of the proposed project is to increase the winter carrying capacity for coho salmon and steelhead in Lagunitas Creek. A 2008 Limiting Factors Analysis concluded that the lack of sufficient overwintering habitat was the most critical factor limiting the increase of the federally-listed coho salmon (listed as endangered) and steelhead trout populations (listed as threatened) in Lagunitas Creek. The district proposal, supported by the CDFW, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), and the NPS, proposes to stabilize and restore Lagunitas Creek salmonid populations by increasing the winter carrying capacity of the creek for coho salmon and steelhead trout. Winter carrying capacity would be increased by modifying creek hydrology and enhancing and restoring existing floodplain and instream habitat at 5 sites in Lagunitas Creek within NPS lands managed by Point Reyes National Seashore.

The primary method proposed for modifying creek hydrology would be the construction of large log structures in the main stream channel that would obstruct and backwater flows to raise creek water levels while deflecting flows into the existing floodplain side channels on a more frequent basis than currently occurs (which is typically only during very large storms). The proposed log structures would consist of 30-35 foot long logs, with their root systems attached, stacked and placed in an upstream pointing configuration, with other logs driven vertically into the stream bed to pin and anchor the structures. Some of the structures would be placed after excavating the streambed so that the structures are imbedded into the channel; other structures would simply be placed on the streambed surface. The structures would be stabilized by placing rocks, sand, and gravel from the existing stream bed over the top of the downstream half of the structure.

Allowing side channels to be more frequently inundated would provide additional high quality sites for coho and steelhead to successfully forage, find high flow refuge, seek cover from predators, grow, and survive through the winter (Stillwater Sciences 2008). Installation of large wood structures within the main channel would provide the same habitat enhancement benefits within the main channel of the creek.

The four-week comment period will close at the end of the business day on Monday, January 11, 2016. The NPS is encouraging the public to participate by submitting comments online or by letter. The preferred method for submitting comments is via the internet through the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) site at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/lagunitas. Click on the "Open for Comment" link to comment. You may also mail or hand deliver comments to:

Lagunitas EA c/o Superintendent
Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

If you have any questions regarding this process, please contact John Dell'Osso, Chief of Interpretation and Resource Interpretation at 415-464-5135.

-NPS-



Last updated: December 10, 2015

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