July 12, 2018
Gordon Leppig, Senior Environmental Scientist
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
619 2nd Street
Eureka, CA 95501
RE: Notice of preparation of a DEIR for Ocean Ranch Restoration Project
Dear California Department of Fish and Wildlife,
Friends of the Eel River writes in support of the Ocean Ranch Restoration Project as outlined in the Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIR. The Ocean Ranch Unit of the Eel River Wildlife Area provides important habitat for both native fishes and shorebirds. For far too long, that habitat has been degraded by human modifications for agriculture. We are encouraged to see the agency and its partners advancing a plan to restore it to functional wildlife habitat. The project proposed in the notice is an excellent start, and we encourage you to not only conduct the proposed work but to further commit to restoring this region to its more natural state of dynamic equilibrium for the long haul.
Specifically, we encourage project planners to develop a plan that:
– 3.3.2 – Mimics natural processes wherever possible. In particular, it is our hope that the proposed channel excavations will follow likely prior paths that evolved naturally rather than become mere channels for water conveyance.
– 3.3.9 – Avoids ‘chemical control’ for invasive species management whenever possible. Manual, mechanical, and fire-based removal methods are more appropriate tools for a wildlife area. Should the agency find it absolutely necessary to employ chemical suppressants, implementers must be directed to use the least toxic alternative possible.
– 3.4 – Addresses motorized recreation’s impacts on the resource and its proposed restoration. We applaud the proposed expansion of pedestrian and non-motorized boat infrastructure expansion. We also encourage you to 1. evaluate the effects current ATV use has on the resources and 2. restrict ATV use in the unit accordingly. I have personally visited the area twice in the past year and found it difficult to enjoy myself there due to the proliferation of loud ATVs on the beach. I have also witnessed them driving in the dune areas that are supposed to be off-limits. This is not an appropriate use for a wildlife area and could even negate some of the positive impacts of the proposed project.
– General – Accounts for how climate change and sea-level rise might affect the project’s success.
Thank you for taking the lead on restoring this rare and beautiful coastal ecosystem. We look forward to reviewing the EIR.
Stephanie Tidwell, Executive Director
Friends of the Eel River
P.O. Box 4945
Arcata, CA 95518
Office: (707) 798-6345
Mobile: (415) 747-5458