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Comments Due: September 29, 2014
San Elijo Lagoon Restoration Project - Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement
The Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for the San Elijo Lagoon Restoration Project (SELRP) is now available for public review and comment. The proposed project requires evaluation pursuant to both CEQA and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) because of federal, state, and local discretionary actions. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is the federal lead agency responsible for compliance with NEPA. Given the proposed project’s complexity and range of potentially significant issues, the appropriate environmental document is a combined EIR/EIS. The Corps and DPR have agreed to jointly prepare the EIR/EIS to address federal, state, and local requirements for environmental analysis and permitting.
The project is located in the southernmost portion of the city of Encinitas. San Elijo Lagoon is a coastal wetland formed where Escondido and La Orilla creeks meet the Pacific Ocean. The lagoon provides habitat for sensitive, threatened, and endangered plants and animals, including resident and migratory wildlife. There are also public recreational opportunities within the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve (Reserve), including more than 7 miles of hiking trails. Over time, development and infrastructure constraints have affected the lagoon ecosystem and reduced habitat diversity. Restoration of tidal influence to the lagoon and enhancing freshwater fluvial flows out of the lagoon would restore the physical (soils and hydrology) and biological (biogeochemical/water quality and habitat) functions that have been degraded over the years.
The SELRP is a community effort administered by the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy to restore lagoon functions and services to the extent practicable given the constraints of surrounding development. The SELRP has two components: the restoration of San Elijo Lagoon and the disposal or reuse of materials excavated as part of the restoration. The SELRP would reconfigure lagoon elevations via grading/dredging and modify water flow into the lagoon via changes to the ocean inlet and lagoon channels. Elevations would be created to allow for appropriate inundation frequencies that would support specific habitat types. The project would also reconfigure or retrofit existing Coast Highway 101 over the inlet of the lagoon, depending on the alternative. Restoration of the lagoon has the potential to generate more than 1 million cubic yards (mcy) of excess material through dredging operations. Various options are available for disposal or reuse of that material (e.g., offshore ocean and/or upland placement or disposal, placement on the beach or nearshore, and reuse on-site), depending on its characteristics.
The Draft EIR/EIS identified significant environmental impacts under CEQA to water and aquatic sediment quality; geology and soils; biological resources; cultural resources; paleontological resources; visual resources; traffic and circulation; air quality; noise; hazardous materials and public safety; and global climate change and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Under CEQA, significant cumulative impacts were identified for six topic areas including biological resources, visual resources, traffic and circulation, air quality, noise, and global climate change and GHG emissions. Various federal, state and local project approvals and permits are necessary for implementation of the proposed project.
Written comments on the Draft EIR/EIS should be directed to: Megan Hamilton, Group Program Manager, and must be received no later than September 29, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.
(a 60 day public review period).
The public is invited to attend informational meetings on the project. Two public meetings will be held as follows:
- Tuesday August 19, 2014 from 6-7:30PM at La Colonia Community Center, 715 Valley Ave., Solana Beach, CA 92075
- Wednesday August 27, 2014 from 6-7:30PM at 1140 Oakcrest Park Dr., Encinitas, CA 92024.