California Coastal National Monument
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PLANNING UPDATE

May 30, 2003

  

Scoping Report Available On-Line. The Scoping Report for the California Coastal National Monument (CCNM), which will be used to develop the Resource Management Plan (RMP) and the related environmental impact statement (EIS), has been finalized and is now available on the BLM’s CCNM website at www.ca.blm.gov/pa/coastal_monument/ The 150 page Scoping Report documents the public scoping BLM conducted to initiate the resource management planning and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes for the CCNM.  The report includes a statement of the RMP purpose and need, a summary of the public scoping process, a summary of coordination with other agencies and Native American groups, a listing of the major issues to be addressed in the RMP, the planning criteria to be used to focus the RMP, a summary of available data for the planning area and the identification of data gaps, and a description of future steps in the planning and environmental review process.  The Scoping Report also includes a listing of over 550 individual comments that are displayed by category and subject matter.  The reports appendices includes a summary of all of the public meetings and letters received, as well as examples of the letters sent to the potential cooperating agencies and Native American groups.

Trinidad Rancheria First to Sign a Cooperating Agency MOU.  The Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria, commonly referred to as the “Trinidad Rancheria,” was the first out of 48 invitees to sign a cooperating agency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the BLM related to the CCNM RMP and the accompanying environmental impact statement (EIS).  Pursuant to the President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations (40 CFR Parts 1500-1508) implementing NEPA, the BLM, as the lead agency for the CCNM RMP/EIS, sent letters offering the opportunity to participate in the CCNM RMP/EIS process as a “cooperating agency” to six federal agencies, five state agencies, 15 California coastal counties, and 22 federally-recognized tribes.  The CEQ regulations define a cooperating agency as any agency that has jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to any environmental issue that should be addressed in the EIS.  Any federal, state, tribal, or local government agency with such qualifications may become a cooperating agency by agreement with the lead agency.  Trinidad Rancheria Tribal Council Chair Carol Ervin signed the MOU for the Trinidad Rancheria, while CCNM Manager Rick Hanks and Arcata Field Office Manager Lynda Roush signed for the BLM.  As a part of the Trinidad Rancheria’s role as a cooperating agency, Gregg Nesty, Environmental Program Coordinator for the Trinidad Rancheria, was appointed as the rancheria’s representative on the CCNM RMP Interdisciplinary (ID) Team.

Two Core Managing Partners Sign Cooperating Agency MOUs.  The directors of both of BLM’s two CCNM “core managing partners,” the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) and the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR), have signed cooperating agency MOUs related to the CCNM RMP/EIS.  Completing these MOUs was an important formal step related to the CCNM RMP process. The interim MOU establishing CDFG and CDPR as BLM’s managing partners for the CCNM did not address planning, although their involvement in this planning initiative is critical to the long-term success and usefulness of the RMP.  As part of the two state departments’ role in this planning effort, Paul Kelly of CDFG and Jim Berry of CDPR have been named as their agency’s representatives on the CCNM ID Team.  Paul Kelly is the Coastal and Marine Bird Biologist for CDFG’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response.  Jim Barry is the Senior State Park Ecologist for CDPR’s Natural Resources Division.

RMP & CEQA.  Based on input from the initial public scoping period and as a follow-up item to the first CCNM RMP ID Team meeting, BLM and Jones & Stokes have been pursuing the options of including the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process as part of the development and approval of the CCNM RMP and concurrent with the supporting NEPA process.  A briefing paper was prepared and submitted to CDFG and CDPR for review.  Both CEQA and NEPA encourage state and federal agencies to cooperate to the fullest extent possible, including working together on joint planning processes.  CDFG, however, has decided not to conduct a concurrent CEQA process at this time. 

VAFB, NOAA & CCNM Coordination Meeting Held in Monterey.  A coordination meeting was held in late April between representatives from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) and representatives for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) four National Marine Sanctuaries in California, NOAA’s National Marine Protection Areas Center, and the CCNM.  The agencies discussed their programs related to coastal and marine protection and identified opportunities for future cooperation and coordination.  The Air Force was represented by Paul Klock, Plans and Programs Chief; Glen Richardson, environmental attorney; Jim Rohr, customer support manager; Nancy Read Francine, wildlife biologist; and Jim Johnston, environmental consultant.  Ann Walton represented the joint management planning effort for NOAA’s three northern National Marine Sanctuaries- -Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones, and Cordell Banks.  Representing the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary was Chris Mobley, the new Sanctuary Manager.  Charles Wahle and Aaron King represented NOAA’s National Marine Protected Area Center Program and hosted the meeting.  Representing BLM were Rick Hanks, CCNM Manager, and Ed Ruth, Bakersfield Field Office Lead Law Enforcement Ranger.  Alex Stone, Sea Range Environmental Coordinator, U.S. Navy’s NAVAIR Weapons Division at Point Mugu, and Mike Rushton, CCNM RMP project manager for Jones & Stokes, also attended the meeting.

VAFB & Stewardship.  As part of a response from the most recent public comment period regarding the proposed planning criteria and issues, the US Air Force (USAF) Space Command has expressed interest in developing a “stewardship” partnership regarding the CCNM and Vandenberg Air Force Base.  In a letter, dated May 5, 2003, from the acting chief of the Environmental Division of the USAF Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to the BLM California State Director, the USAF stated that the establishment of the CCNM “presents an opportunity for BLM and the Air Force to build a successful partnership.”  They are proposing to enter into an MOU with BLM that would “outline the Air Force’s stewardship responsibilities for that portion of the monument that lies off the coast of VAFB.”  BLM is currently pursuing this option with the USAF and VAFB personnel as a model for future CCNM “stewards.”

Meeting with DOI & BLM regarding Trustee Councils.  The establishment of the CCNM has thrust BLM into a higher level of involvement related to both past and future hazardous material and oil spill incidents associated with the California coast.  In order to begin the discussion of what this higher level of involvement means to both the BLM and the Department of the Interior (USDI), a meeting was held in Sacramento on April 30, 2003, to discuss BLM’s expanding role related to trustee councils and natural resource damage assessment and restoration (NRDA) activities affecting the California coast.  USDI was represented by Chip Demarest, NRDA coordinator for the USDI Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance in Oakland, and Assistant Field Solicitor Chuck McKinley and Attorney Carolyn Lown, both from the USDI Office of the Solicitor’s San Francisco Field Office.  Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) was represented by Dan Welsh, Environmental Contaminant Program Chief in the California/Nevada Operations Office.  Representing BLM were Tony Danna, California State Office’s (CASO’s) Deputy State Director for Natural Resources, Dick Forester, CASO Hazardous Materials Program Lead, and Paul Meyer, Resource Damage Specialist from the National Science and Technology Center in Denver, Colorado.  Rick Hanks represented the CCNM.  FWS has traditionally served as the USDI’s “designated authorized official” and has served on all trustee councils involving USDI.  With the CCNM, however, the BLM will need to take a more active role in oil discharge and hazardous substance release incidents along the California coast.  BLM’s increased role in these incidents will evolve over time, but for the present, BLM has made it known that it plans to become an increasingly more active player in all actions affecting the CCNM.

CCNM Participates in USCG’s Marine Protected Species Forum in Oakland.  On May 14 and 15, 2003, the US Coast Guard (USCG) held its first Pacific Area Marine Protected Species Forum in Oakland, California.   The forum brought together more than a dozen USCG uniformed and civilian personnel, including the Marine Protected Species Division Chief from USCG headquarters, and at least an equal number of invited representatives from a half a dozen other agencies.  These agency’s included NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (Commonly referred now by NOAA as “NOAA Fisheries”), NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries Program, FWS, CDFG, and BLM.  USCG’s marine protected species program objectives include (1) assisting in preventing the decline of marine protected species populations, (2) promoting the recovery of marine protected species and their habitats, (3) partnering with other agencies and organizations to enhance stewardship of marine ecosystems and (4) ensuring internal compliance with appropriate legislation, regulations and management practices.  While the USCG shares enforcement responsibility with NOAA Fisheries and the FWS, the USCG is the foremost agency with the maritime infrastructure, capability, and authority to project a federal law enforcement presence in the waters off the coastline of the United States and into the US Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and upon the high seas.  As such, they are available to work with all federal agencies to enforce federal laws and regulations along the US coastline and are interested in working with the BLM with the protection of the CCNM.  CCNM manager Rick Hanks provide the forum with an introduction to the CCNM and identified some of potential areas of future coordination and collaboration with the USCG.  These areas included protection and law enforcement, patrols and surveillance, education and outreach, hazardous substance releases and oil spills, and aids to navigation and withdrawal review, planning, and stewardship of marine ecosystems.

ID Team Meeting & Initiation of MSA Phase of the RMP.  As a kick off of the Management Situation Analysis (MSA) phase of the CCNM RMP, the second formal ID Team meeting and conference call was held on Tuesday, May 22, 2003, in the Jones & Stokes office in Sacramento.  The majority of the meeting was spent going over the outline of the MSA for the CCNM RMP.  As Rick Hanks, CCNM Manager, pointed out, “The MSA is a critical step in the planning process, the step that involves the greatest amount of input from the greatest amount of people.  It is the basis on which the RMP is developed.”  He added that, “At this point in the planning process, we are moving from the scoping and data gathering stage to the actual development of the plan.”   It was also mentioned that the CCNM RMP schedule has been revised (See next item) to allow for adequate time to compile the MSA and for public and compliance review of the draft RMP/draft EIS. 

RMP Schedule Revised.  The schedule for the CCNM RMP has been revised and is available on the BLM’s CCNM website at www.ca.blm.gov/pa/coastal_monument. The revised CCNM RMP schedule now has the release of the Draft RMP/Draft EIS by the end of October 2003, the release of the Proposed RMP/Final EIS by the end of March 2004, and the issuance of the Final RMP and Record of Decision in August 2004.  For management and budgeting purposes, it is important that the final RMP be completed before the beginning of the federal fiscal year of 2005, which starts on October 1, 2004.  Barring unforeseen circumstances, completing the Draft RMP/Draft EIS by the middle of the Fall of 2003, completing the Proposed RMP/EIS by early Spring 2004, and having a Final RMP by the end of the Summer of 2004 are the set milestones for this planning initiative.

California Islands Symposium & Call for CCNM Related Papers.  The Sixth California Islands Symposium (CIS) will be held from December 1-3, 2003, at the Ventura Beach Marriott in Ventura, California.  CSI is a multidisciplinary conference focusing on recent research and resource management efforts on the California Islands and their surrounding marine environment.  The objective of this meeting will be to facilitate communication between scientists, agency personnel, managers, nonprofit organizations, students, and interested publics regarding the resources and protection of the California Islands.  The CCNM will be organizing a session on California’s coastal rocks and small islands and their role and research potential in the California coastal ecosystem.  Anyone interested in possibly participating in the CCNM related session should contact Rick Hanks (See Contact Information below) before June 30, 2003.  All abstracts for the CIS must be received by the CIS Organizing Committee by July 31, 2003.  Information regarding the CIS can be found at: www.cnpsci.org/cis/cis2003 COGNA Annual Meeting.  The Council of Geographic Names Authorities (COGNA) in the United States will be holding its 2003 annual meeting from September 29 to October 4, 2003, at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, California.  The CCNM manager will be giving a presentation on the naming dilemma associated with the monument’s rocks and small islands.  COGNA president Paul Veisze (CDFG Senior GIS specialist) has invited BLM and its CCNM partners, as well as various individuals, agencies, and organizations that are interested in the naming of geographic places, to attend this meeting.  For future information, Paul can be contacted at: pveisze@dfg.ca.gov.

Contact Information. For any questions, concerns, or requests for additional information  contact Rick Hanks, CCNM Manager, 299 Foam Street, Monterey, CA 93940, telephone 831-372-6105, or e-mail at hhanks@ca.blm.gov or cacnm@ca.blm.gov.

 


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