[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 181 (Tuesday, September 20, 2005)]
[Notices]
[Pages 55116-55117]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-18651]



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DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Department of the Army; Corps of Engineers


Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement/
Environmental Impact Report for the Ballona Creek Ecosystem Restoration 
Feasibility Study, Los Angeles County, CA

AGENCY: Department of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DoD.

ACTION: Notice of intent.

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SUMMARY: The Los Angeles District intends to prepare an Environmental 
Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) to support a 
cost-shared ecosystem restoration feasibility study with the Santa 
Monica Bay Restoration Commission. The proposed project study areas has 
been degraded by encroachment of non-native plants, placement of fill 
from Marina Del Rey, interruption of the hydrologic regime, trash 
accumulation, and varied attempts at bank protection along the creek 
using rock and concrete. Direct benefits of the proposed project 
include improved habitat and water quality, reductions in waste and 
trash, and aesthetics. The watershed is an important resource for both 
recreational uses and for fish, and wildlife and further degradation 
could jeopardize remaining. The purpose of the feasibility study is to 
evaluate alternatives for channel modification, habitat restoration 
(coastal and freshwater wetlands and riparian), recreation, and related 
purposes along the lower reach of the Ballona Creek.

DATES: A public scoping meeting will be held on September 29, 2005 at 6 
p.m.

ADDRESSES: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District, CESPL-
PD, P.O. Box 532711, Los Angeles, CA 90053 and Santa Monica Bay 
Restoration Commission, 320 West 4th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shannon Dellaquila, Project 
Environmental Manager, at (213) 452-3850 or Malisa Martin, Project 
Study Manager at (213) 452-3828.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

1. Authorization

    This study was prepared as an interim response to the following 
authorities provided by Congress under Section 216 of the Flood Control 
Act of 1970, which states:

    The Secretary of the Army, acting through the Chief of 
Engineers, is authorized to review the operation of projects the 
construction of which has been completed and which were constructed 
by the Corps of Engineers in the interest of navigation, flood 
control, water supply, and related purposes, when found advisable 
due the significantly changed physical or economic conditions, and 
to report thereon to Congress with recommendations on the 
advisability of modifying the structures or their operation, and for 
improving the quality of the environment in the overall public 
interest;

supplemented by House Resolution on Public Works and Transportation 
dated September 28, 1994 which states:

    The Secretary of the Army is requested to review the report of 
the Chief of Engineers on Playa del Rey Inlet and Basin, Venice, 
California, published as House Document 389, Eighty-third Congress, 
Second Session, and other pertinent reports, to determine whether 
modifications of the recommendations contained therein are advisable 
at present time, in the interest of navigation, hurricane and storm 
damage reduction, environmental restoration, and other purposes at 
Marina del Rey Harbor, Los Angeles, California, with consideration 
given to disposal of contaminated sediments from the entrance 
channel required under the existing operation and maintenance 
program at Marina del Rey.

2. Background

    The Ballona Creek Ecosystem Restoration study area lies within Los 
Angeles County, CA and includes portions of Marina del Rey, Culver 
City, Playa del Rey, and the City of Los Angeles. The study area, a 
component of the greater Ballona Creek Watershed, includes the lower 
reach of Ballona Creek extending southwest from Cochran Avenue, in Los 
Angeles, to Pacific Ocean in Marina del Rey. specific features of the 
Ballona Creek watershed, including existing and historic wetland areas, 
the Ballona Lagoon, Del Rey Lagoon, Venice Canal, Grand Canal, the 
Oxford Drain and the Ballona Channel and tributaries, will be addressed 
in this study.
    The greater Ballona Creek system drains a watershed of 
approximately 329 square kilometers (81,300 acres), and is the largest 
tributary that drains into the Santa Monica Bay. Ballona Creek collects 
runoff from several partially urbanized canyons on the south slopes of 
the Santa Monica Mountains as well as from intensely urbanized areas of 
West Los Angeles, Culver City, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and parts of 
Central Los Angeles. The urbanized areas account for 80 percent of the 
watershed area, and the partially developed foothills and mountains 
make up the remaining 20 percent. The watershed boundary includes the 
Santa Monica Mountains on the north, the unincorporated area known as 
Baldwin Hills, and the City of Inglewood on the south.
    The Ballona Creek Ecosystem Restoration study footprint's southern 
boundary is defined by the Westcheste Bluffs, which run southwest from 
the San Diego (405) Freeway beyond Loyola Marymount University. The 
western boundary extends from the Pacific Ocean. The eastern boundary 
begins where Ballona Creek daylights at Cochran Avenue and Venice 
Boulevard in a section of Los Angeles known as the Mid City. 
Tributaries of Ballona Creek include Centinela Creek, Sepulveda Canyon 
Channel, Benedict Canyon Channel, and numerous storm drains.
    The Ballona Creek watershed ecosystem has been altered by intense 
land development, encroachment of non-native plants, trash 
accumulation, and varied attempts at bank protection along the creek 
using rock and concrete. Although an important function of the Ballona 
Creek is as a flood control channel, the lower watershed is still an 
important resource for both recreational uses and for fish and wildlife 
habitat. Further impairment could jeopardize remaining habitat. This 
study will evaluate opportunities for habitat restoration (including 
wetland and riparian habitat), improvements to water quality, trash 
mitigation, and recreation and related purposes along the lower reach 
of the Ballona creek.

3. Problems and Needs

    At least ninety (90) percent of historic coastal wetlands in 
California have been lost due to filing, dredging, flood control and 
intensive development. Within the Lower Ballona Creek Watershed, 
remaining fragmented wetland areas have been degraded due to diminished 
hydraulic function, poor water quality and introduction of exotic 
plants and animals. While functioning wetland systems and riparian 
habitat remain, they are stressed.
     Channelization of the Ballona Creek and filling of 
historic wetland and riparian areas have contributed to degradation and 
loss of habitat due to impeded tidal exchange and circulation.
     Contaminated stormwater runoff and trash loading has 
degraded Ballona Creek water quality.
     Habitat alteration and loss has decreased biodiversity and 
overall ecological health, threatening the survival of native 
endangered species such as the California least tern (Sterna antillarum 
brown), snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), and the Belding's 
Savannah Sparrow (Sandwichensis beldingi).
     The current design of the Flood Control channel has 
resulted in a lack

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of recreational opportunities and is considered aesthetically 
challenged.
     At present there is no integrated approach and partnership 
amongst stakeholders to resolve lower Ballona Creek in-stream and 
wetland degradation issues, which has led to uncoordinated and 
sometimes redundant and unsuccessful improvement measures.

4. Proposed Action and Alternative

    The Los Angeles District will investigate and evaluate all 
reasonable alternatives to address the problems and need stated above. 
In addition to a without project (No Action) Alternative, both 
structural and non-structural environmental measures will be 
investigated. An assessment of the feasibility of removing impervious 
surfaces from the Ballona Channel will also be evaluated. Proposed 
restoration measures include: re-grading and removal of fill, remove 
invasive and non-native plant species, reintroduction of a water source 
and installation of native plants to restore previously filled coastal 
wetlands. Other measures to be evaluated include features to improve or 
restore tidal regime in Oxford Basin, the Grand and Venice canals, and 
Ballona and Del Rey Lagoons; the potential for in stream wetland 
development in Centinela, Sepulveda and Ballona Creek; sediment loading 
in the upper watershed; and related recreation and educational 
opportunities.

5. Scoping Process

    The scoping process is on-going, and has involved preliminary 
coordination with Federal, State, and local agencies and the general 
public. A public scoping meeting is scheduled for Thursday September 
29th from 6-8 p.m. at the Rotunda Room of the Veteran's Memorial 
Building, 4117 Overland Avenue, Culver City, CA. This information is 
being published in the local news media, and a notice is being mailed 
to all parties on the study mailing list to ensure that public will 
have an opportunity to express opinions and raise any issues relating 
to the scope of the Feasibility Study and the Environmental Impact 
Study/Environmental Impact Report. The public as well as Federal, 
state, and local agencies are encouraged to participate by submitting 
data, information, and comments identifying relevant environmental and 
socioeconomic issues to be addressed in the study. Useful information 
includes other environmental studies, published and unpublished data, 
alternatives that could be addressed in the analysis, and, potential 
mitigation measures associated with the proposed action. All comments 
will be considered in the project development. Concerns may be 
submitted in writing to the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, or 
to the Los Angeles District (see ADDRESSES). Comments, suggestions, and 
request to be placed on the mailing list for announcements should be 
sent to MaLisa Martin (see ADDRESSES) or by e-mail to MaLisa.M.Martin@
sp101.usace.army.mil.

Availability of the Draft EIS/EIR

    The Draft EIS/EIR is scheduled to be published and circulated in 
December 2007, and a public hearing to receive comments on the Draft 
EIS/EIR will be held after it is published.

    Dated: September 13, 2005.
Alex C. Dornstauder,
Colonel, U.S. Army, District Engineer.
[FR Doc. 05-18651 Filed 9-19-05; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3710-KF-M