USFWS Decision and Finding of No Significant Impact and EA Addendum by FWSdocs

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									                 Addendum to Environmental Assessment and Public Use Plan

              Development of Public Use Program and Associated Facilities on Cannery Hill
                  at Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Tillamook County, Oregon

                    Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Newport, Oregon

                                                 May 2007


  Included in this Addendum:

      1. Summary of Revisions to Cannery Hill Overlook Project as originally proposed in Draft EA.
         Project design changes were based on public comments and additional project analysis.
      2. Summary of Public Comments and Responses
      3. Project Description from Draft EA, revised to reflect changes to original proposal


  1. SUMMARY OF REVISIONS TO CANNERY HILL OVERLOOK PROPOSAL


  Original proposal                 REVISION                           Rationale and effect
Pave 0.8 mile (the entire   Pave the lower 0.4 mile of     Lower 0.4 mile of road can be made much
portion of road open to     Christensen Road, from         safer for residents and visitors by paving and
public access) of           Hwy 101 entrance to lower      widening this portion and employing
Christensen Road, from      parking lot. Widen             pavement markings and speed bumps,
Hwy 101 entrance to         wherever possible and add      signage, selective vegetation trimming and
upper parking lot.          passing turnouts.              removal, and other devices to further reduce
                                                           traffic speeds and increase sight distance.

Pave 0.8 mile (the entire   Continue to consult with       In response to concerns expressed by the
portion of road open to     Oregon Department of           public regarding safety of the upper road for
public access) of           Transportation (ODOT) and      vehicle/ pedestrian/ bicyclist interactions, the
Christensen Road, from      Federal Highways               Service will make a decision on the final
Hwy 101 entrance to         Administration (FHWA)          design and surfacing of this portion of the
upper parking lot.          engineers to finalize the      road following additional consultations with
                            design and surfacing of the    ODOT and FHWA engineers. The final
                            upper 0.4 mile of              decision will be based on the engineers’
                            Christensen Road, from the     recommendations regarding which surface,
                            lower parking lot to the       gravel or pavement, can be made the safest
                            upper parking lot. Widen       for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists who
                            wherever possible and add      will potentially be traveling the road at the
                            passing turnouts.              same time, while minimizing environmental
                                                           harm. The Service will also continue to
                                                           explore additional options for linking the
                                                           lower parking lot to the trail without
                                                           requiring pedestrians to walk up the upper
                                                           road.
Construct at least three    Construct at least eight       Additional turnouts allow more locations for
turnouts along 0.8 mile     “intervisible” (each one       traffic to safely pass going both directions.
of Christensen Road.        visible from the previous
                            one) turnouts along road, as
                            well as additional wide
                            passing areas.
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Upper parking lot to        Upper parking lot to have       Upper parking lot is primarily for wheelchair-
have one accessible and     two accessible and four         bound and other visitors who are unable to
five standard parking       standard spaces.                walk the 0.4 mile from the lower to upper
spaces.                                                     parking lot. Signage will indicate this at the
                                                            lower parking lot.

Upper parking lot to be     Upper parking lot to be         Revised parking lot configuration (drawing
constructed to the west     constructed as the apparent     submitted by a commenter) appears to be a
side of existing            end of the public access        better option for guiding visitors and
Christensen Road            road, with Christensen Road     eliminating restrictions to access by Nestucca
alignment.                  re-routed as a “bypass”         Sanctuary visitors. Use of a gate to control
                            around the parking lot and      traffic above the upper parking lot would
                            posted to indicate “Area        likely become unnecessary with
                            Closed” and “Private Road       implementation of this design.
                            Ahead”.
Visitors in buses or RV’s   Prohibit RV’s, buses, and       Christensen Road is too narrow to be made
allowed to travel the       autos with trailers on          safe for regular RV and bus traffic in addition
lower 0.4 mile of road      Christensen Road. School        to passenger vehicle traffic from residents,
and park in the lower       buses permitted only by         Nestucca Sanctuary visitors, and refuge
parking lot.                prior arrangement with          visitors.
                            Refuge staff.

Speed limit not defined.    Posted speed limit would be     With a road design speed of 20 mph, a posted
                            ten miles per hour (10 mph)     driving speed of ten mph will create much
                            for the entire 0.8 mile of      safer conditions for driving and passing, and
                            public access road.             will be safer for pedestrians on the upper 0.4
                                                            mile of road.
Two culverts under the      Culverts proposed for           Culvert replacement locations incorrectly
road will be replaced       replacement do not require      identified in early stages of project planning
with culverts allowing      fish passage because they do    led to erroneous statement of the need for
fish passage.               not cross fish bearing          fish passage provisions in the draft EA. In
                            streams. More than two          addition, detailed planning for road
                            culverts may need replacing     improvement indicates that safer conditions
                            or alteration during road       may be achieved with the extension or
                            paving.                         alteration of several additional culverts.
                                                            None of the culverts tentatively proposed for
                                                            alteration will require fish passage provisions
                                                            because the culverts are not located in fish
                                                            bearing streams.

Letters of support for      Letter of support from          Support letter withdrawn per request from
the project included a      Nestucca Valley School          letter’s author.
letter from the Nestucca    District withdrawn per
Valley School District.     request from School District
                            Superintendent.

Bicycle rack to be          Bicycle rack to be removed      Elimination of the bicycle rack from project
installed in upper          from project plans.             plans will reduce the desirability of
parking lot.                                                Christensen Road as a bicycle tour
                                                            destination. This decision was based on the
                                                            desire to further reduce the potential for
                                                            goose disturbance on pastures along lower
                                                            road.

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   2. SUMMARY OF PUBLIC COMMENTS AND RESPONSES


   Category            Issue or concern                                  Response
Impacts to    Increases in traffic on road will     It is acknowledged that construction of this project
residents     degrade the community’s quality       and concurrent public use will constitute a change
from public   of life; difficult to maintain        for residents of Christensen Road and for visitors
access        privacy with a public access          to the Nestucca Sanctuary. The conception and
              neighbor; making area open to         subsequent design of this project as a restricted
              public invites misuse such as         use, low impact facility has been planned with
              littering, noise pollution,           consideration of the potential impacts to the local
              vandalism, congestion,                community and a desire to reduce or eliminate as
              trespassing, and a general            many of the negative effects as possible by
              decline in quality of life. Project   discouraging opportunistic and non-wildlife
              would be an intrusion near            dependent visitation. Components such as
              private farms and residences.         limiting the number of parking spaces, modifying
                                                    road surfaces and widths for safety, a low speed
                                                    limit, prohibition of RV’s, buses and autos with
                                                    trailers, and carefully considered signage will help
                                                    reduce casual visitation and the potential for
                                                    misuse. Agreements with local law enforcement
                                                    for regular patrol of the facility, as well as the
                                                    presence of an on-site volunteer caretaker, will
                                                    help to further mute these potential impacts.

Location of   Regarding proposed                    Education is one of the refuge goals. Analysis of
facilities    development at the top of the         other locations on refuge for providing the public
              hill, “wouldn’t another place on      opportunities for education, interpretation,
              the refuge serve both educational     wildlife observation and photography led to the
              and preservation goals better?        decision that providing access to the Cannery Hill
              Lower parking lot (old barn site)     area would have the least impact on wildlife and
              is enough, confine visitors to        habitat. Confining visitors to the lower parking
              lower area and add viewing site       area has greater potential for wildlife disturbance
              to this location. Geese would be      because visitors will linger above the pastures
              less disturbed by a pullout along     where the geese are feeding, and wildlife viewing
              Highway 101. Other suggestions:       would be limited to the six months of the year
              allow only disabled parking in        when the geese are present. This location also
              upper lot, and place a walking        does not afford the full watershed view that is
              path alongside the road.              possible from the top of Cannery Hill, and
                                                    allowing public access up to this site would not
                                                    change any of the traffic impacts to the residents
                                                    along the lower road. Public safety is also of
                                                    paramount concern and would have been
                                                    compromised by a pullout along Highway 101.
                                                    Allowing only disabled parking in the upper
                                                    parking lot would discriminate against individuals
                                                    who are not physically able to walk up to the upper
                                                    parking lot but are not officially “disabled”. The
                                                    upper 0.4 mile of road is not wide enough for a
                                                    designated walking path but will be widened
                                                    wherever possible, and signs posted to ensure
                                                    motorists are aware of pedestrians on the road.

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Impacts to     Development of facilities in this     The Cannery Hill grasslands within the refuge are
wildlife and   area would cause significant          highly altered from their original state, contain
habitat        ecological damage and disruption      extensive areas of invasive plant species, and were
               of natural habitat; project would     grazed and fertilized with manure for many years
               deeply affect grasslands and          as a working dairy farm prior to acquisition by the
               wildflowers. Will coastal prairie     Service as a refuge. The “commercial grassland”
               restoration be possible if there is   condition of this site does have potential for
               paved trail on hill? Will paving      restoration as coastal prairie and possibly for the
               and project construction              threatened Silverspot butterfly. The permanent
               preclude restoration for              alteration and paving of 0.25 acres represents a
               endangered Silverspot butterfly?      very minor loss of wildlife habitat and would not
               Refuge was purchased for the          preclude restoration on the remainder of the site.
               protection of wildlife: project       The project is designed to concentrate visitation
               would be a “net loss to wildlife”     on the upper portion of the site so that the geese
               as more geese will be scared off      are not disturbed while in the lower pastures. This
               refuge onto private property.         design permits fulfillment of the refuge purpose
               Impacts to wildlife include loss of   while also meeting the refuge and Service goals of
               available forage for deer and elk,    providing for wildlife-dependent uses where they
               raptor prey. Wildlife will be         are compatible with the refuge purpose.
               disturbed and foliage destroyed.

Road safety    Road too narrow and winding;          The majority of revisions to the original proposal
concerns       pavement will allow even more         are in response to road safety concerns.
               excessive speed; several bad          Christensen Road will be widened wherever
               blind spots on road. Drivers will     possible, and at least eight passing turnouts will be
               not be looking for oncoming cars.     constructed. The lower 0.4 mile of road (up to the
               Existing road does not meet           lower parking lot) will be paved because according
               Nestucca Rural Fire Protection        to Federal Highways and ODOT engineers, this
               District standards for emergency      portion can be made much safer if paved. The road
               response. Widen to two lanes and      adjacent to the two residence driveways will be
               place speed bumps on either side      widened to improve visibility for residents as they
               of resident’s driveways on            exit driveways, and to increase the sight distance
               Christensen road. Don’t allow         for vehicles traveling that section. Along the
               RV’s on road.                         length of the paved portion and especially around
                                                     the residences, devices including striping, speed
                                                     bumps, and other pavement markings will be
                                                     employed to control traffic speeds. The Service
                                                     will make a final decision on the design and
                                                     surfacing of the upper 0.4 mile of the road
                                                     following additional consultations with ODOT and
                                                     FHWA engineers. The decision will be based on
                                                     the engineers’ recommendations regarding which
                                                     surface, gravel or pavement, can be made the
                                                     safest for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists who
                                                     will potentially be traveling the road at the same
                                                     time. Selective tree and brush removal will be
                                                     used along the entire 0.8 mile of road open to the
                                                     public, to increase visibility and improve sight
                                                     stopping distance. The road will be designed for
                                                     safety at 20 mph; however, the posted speed limit
                                                     will be 10 mph. The road widening and turnouts
                                                     will serve to accommodate emergency response
                                                     vehicles. RV’s, unscheduled buses, and autos with
                                                     trailers will not be permitted on Christensen Road.

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Public safety   No way to regulate enforcement        Agreements with local law enforcement for regular
concerns        of rules; risks of fire damage and    patrol of the facility, as well as the presence of an
                unauthorized use of refuge;           on-site volunteer caretaker, will help to reduce, if
                isolated places are used for          not eliminate, unauthorized use. Gates along
                drugs, parties – police               Christensen Road leading into pastures will be
                protection? Liability if someone      replaced with more sturdy gates with locks. Gates
                opens a gate and cattle get out       installed on Christensen Road may not be closed
                onto road. Fire danger,               the majority of the time, and any locks placed on
                inadequate access for fire trucks.    these gates will have a bypass option for
                Gates would restrict access to        emergency and law enforcement vehicles. Power
                Nestucca Sanctuary and if             to these gates will be solar electricity with battery
                electric, would turn into a barrier   backup.
                for emergency vehicles in case of
                power outage.


Nestucca        Concerns from Nestucca Jesuit         This project will be constructed entirely on Refuge
Sanctuary       Sanctuary: Project and public         lands. The Nestucca Sanctuary lands are located
concerns        access would diminish Sanctuary       approximately one- half mile past the proposed
                visitors’ solitude and would          upper parking lot on Christensen Road, and there
                compromise the mission of Jesuit      is another private ownership between the refuge
                sanctuary. “Plan needs to fulfill     and Sanctuary lands. Sanctuary visitors travel
                the needs of the Nestucca             through the Refuge on the Refuge-owned road to
                Sanctuary community to find           reach the Sanctuary. Visitors to the Cannery Hill
                silence and peace.”                   Overlook on Refuge lands should not come in
                                                      contact with Nestucca Sanctuary visitors on
                                                      Sanctuary lands, and there should be no impacts
                                                      to Sanctuary visitors from this project while they
                                                      are on Sanctuary lands.


Project         Project is incompatible with          Providing visitor facilities to support limited
incompatible    refuge purpose, does not follow       public use on the Refuge is entirely consistent with
with Refuge     mission and goals for refuge.         the mission of the Service and the National
mission                                               Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). The EA
                                                      establishing the Nestucca Bay NWR stated that
                                                      Refuge lands on Cannery Hill would receive
                                                      visitors in the future once the Service had
                                                      developed a public-use plan. Specifically, the
                                                      Service would develop an interpretive facility, such
                                                      as a kiosk or overlook and nature trails, on
                                                      Cannery Hill lands in the future. As stated in the
                                                      EA, Refuge Managers are “encouraged” to
                                                      consider ways to facilitate appropriate wildlife-
                                                      dependent public uses on Refuges where the uses
                                                      are determined to be compatible with the purposes
                                                      of the Refuge and the mission of the NWRS. A
                                                      “compatible public use” is defined as a use that
                                                      does not “materially interfere with or detract
                                                      from” the purposes for which the refuge was
                                                      established. (see EA Appendix A, Compatibility
                                                      Determination)



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NEPA          EA document inadequate, needs        Consistent with NEPA Implementing Regulations
compliance    EIS. Need to “implement a full       (40 CFR 1500-1508) and Service NEPA
              NEPA”.                               procedures, the EA was prepared, in part, to
                                                   determine whether project implementation would
                                                   result in significant impacts to the human
                                                   environment and thus require preparation of an
                                                   Environmental Impact Statement. The Draft EA
                                                   was made available for a 30 day public comment
                                                   period, during which we hosted a public meeting
                                                   to answer questions and take comments in
                                                   assessing the significance of potential project
                                                   impacts. In thoroughly evaluating public
                                                   comments received and evaluating anticipated
                                                   project impacts as described in detail in the EA,
                                                   the Service’s responsible official concluded that
                                                   project implementation would not result in
                                                   significant impacts to the human environment.
                                                   This conclusion is documented in the Service’s
                                                   Finding of No Significant Impact; the legal finding
                                                   which concludes this project’s NEPA process.

Support       Support plan insofar as it will      As stated in the EA, Refuge Managers are
proposed      open the refuge to regulated,        “encouraged” to consider ways to facilitate
project       wheelchair-accessible visitation.    appropriate wildlife-dependent public uses on
              “Wheelchair hikes” with wildlife     Refuges where the uses are determined to be
              and scenic views are rare and will   compatible with the purposes of the Refuge and
              be appreciated. Refuge is a          the mission of the NWRS. Wherever possible,
              “jewel”, would be better             facilities constructed to support these public uses
              appreciated if proposed project is   on Refuges are designed to be fully accessible. In
              approved and constructed.            addition, this proposal was selected for funding
              Providing places for public to       through the ODOT Scenic Byways program in part
              view and appreciate the natural      because the project would be wheelchair
              world is particularly important      accessible. The Service agrees that it is very
              for children, meets FWS              important to cultivate an appreciation of the
              objective of promoting wildlife      natural world, especially in children. In
              conservation. Appreciate             recognition of this need, the Service has embarked
              completeness of Draft EA.            on a program called the Children and Nature
                                                   Initiative, which has as its mission the
                                                   improvement of the health status of children while
                                                   increasing their appreciation and advocacy for the
                                                   conservation of the natural environment.
                                                   Providing facilities such as the Cannery Hill
                                                   Overlook will contribute to meeting this need.

Suggestions   Fence should clearly delineate       Fences between private lands and refuge lands will
for           refuge and private land on           be improved and clearly posted to delineate
improvement   Cannery Hill. Reduce hours of        ownerships and discourage trespass. The refuge
              operation, close overlook            may reduce hours of operation if vandalism
              facilities some days. Adopt          necessitates further restrictions. “Green”
              “green standards”. If lower road     standards will be considered and will be used
              is paved, use recycled               wherever possible. Suggestions such as the use of
              alternatives. Consider using         paving stones for upper parking lot, except for
              pavers such as “turfstone” for the   disabled spaces, will be considered and
              parking spaces.                      incorporated into project plans wherever possible.

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Opposition to     Do not construct project: Public    Refuge staff will continue to host guided tours as
any public        should have access to refuge, but   part of birding and other natural resource
access to         only when the geese are here,       festivals, and school groups by special
Refuge            October through April. In peak      arrangement. However, the Service believes that
                  summer months allow guided          to restrict public access to these special events,
                  tours only, led by caretaker, and   when full access is possible and compatible with
                  continue to host festival tours     refuge purposes, would discriminate against
                  and school groups by special        members of the public who do not live locally or
                  arrangement.                        are otherwise unable to attend a specially
                                                      scheduled weekend event or tour.




  3. PROJECT DESCRIPTION FROM DRAFT EA, REVISED TO REFLECT CHANGES TO
 ORIGINAL PROPOSAL

   Proposed action (on pages 5-6 of EA, pages 21-22 in Appendix A Compatibility Determination, and
 abbreviated on p. 31 in Appendix B Section 7), with revisions noted in strikeout and bold.

    The Cannery Hill Overlook Project would be constructed on the Cannery Hill upland grassland and
 entrance road. The project would pave up to 0.8 the lower 0.8 mile of the existing refuge-owned
 gravel access road (Christensen Road) and construct and pave at least three eight vehicle turnouts;
 install two electronic gates to restrict public access to daylight hours and prevent trespass on adjacent
 private property; construct two parking lots; construct an 0.32 mile, 5-foot wide wheelchair accessible
 pedestrian trail, with resting areas, leading from the upper parking lot to an elevated viewing deck near
 the top of Cannery Hill; design and install four interpretive panels, one in each parking lot and two on
 the viewing deck; and install a single stall prefabricated, waterless “vault evaporator” restroom in the
 lower parking lot and a bicycle rack in the upper parking lot. The lower lot would be located adjacent to
 refuge housing on what is now a large open lot on which a dairy barn was formerly located, and would
 contain ten parking spaces, including one accessible space, and two designated bus/RV school bus
 spaces. The upper parking lot would be located in the saddle area of Cannery Hill, and would have five
 standard parking spaces and one accessible space four standard parking spaces and two
 accessible spaces. The pedestrian trail would either be paved with asphalt, or surfaced with another
 accessible trail material such as decomposed granite. Vegetation would be managed along the trail and
 the trail surface would be maintained free of vegetation from the parking lot to the viewing deck to
 define the use area as the trail only. Interpretive panel themes would focus on the abundant, native
 wildlife of the Nestucca Bay area including migratory birds such as bald eagles, dusky Canada and
 Aleutian cackling geese; anadromous fishes such as coho and Chinook salmon; and the role of the
 pasture lands associated with local dairy operations in providing habitat on and adjacent to the Refuge.
 During paving and shaping of the road, two culverts would be replaced, and several more culverts
 may be extended.

    Public use of the Cannery Hill Overlook would be permitted from sunrise to sunset throughout the
 year. Visitors to Nestucca Bay Refuge would have several recreational options. Visitors in buses or
 Recreational Vehicles (RV’s) Visitors in passenger vehicles, and occasionally school buses
 arriving through prior arrangements with Refuge staff, would park in the lower parking lot
 and either enjoy the interpretive information presented at this lot and then exit the Refuge, or continue
 on foot another 2100 feet (0.4 mile) up the access road to the upper parking lot and trail to the viewing
 deck. RV’s, unscheduled buses, and autos with trailers would be prohibited on any portion
 of Christensen Road. From the lower parking lot vantage point, visitors would be able to view the
 refuge pastures, the Coast Range, the Little Nestucca River, and the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway.
 Although signage would encourage visitors in smaller vehicles or on bicycles to park in the lower lot and

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walk up the road to the trail, they would be able to park either in the lower or upper parking lot.
Signage in the lower lot would indicate the low number of parking spaces in the upper
parking lot. From the upper lot, visitors could enjoy the interpretive information in the parking lot
before departing the Refuge, or continue by foot on the wheelchair accessible trail to the elevated
viewing deck for a panoramic view of the surrounding area including the Pacific Ocean and the Nestucca
Bay Estuary. The trail would have resting areas at several vantage points. Except for the parking lots,
the road between the lower and upper parking lots, the pedestrian trail, and the viewing deck, visitors
would be restricted to their vehicles. No pedestrian traffic would be permitted on the road between
Highway 101 and the lower parking lot. Hours of entry would be controlled by electronic gates. Dogs
(except licensed guide/service dogs) and bicycles would be prohibited on the trail. All other areas of the
Refuge would continue to be closed to public access to protect sensitive wildlife and habitats, and would
be posted with “Refuge Boundary” or “Area Closed” signs. The vehicle turnout locations would be
indicated with signs noting that turnouts are for passing only and not for stopping or parking.
Additional signage would be installed to indicate the Nestucca Bay Refuge main entrance and to inform
visitors of regulations.




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