Coastal Dune Restoration Project
Point Reyes National Seashore (Seashore) has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Coastal Dune Restoration Environmental Assessment (EA) to improve and restore coastal dune habitat of critical ecological importance in the park. Under this EA, the Seashore is proposing to restore up to 600 acres of coastal dune habitat primarily to benefit species listed as threatened or endangered. Habitat would be restored by removing highly invasive, non-native plant species (European beachgrass and iceplant species) that have greatly altered sand movement, dune structure, and habitat function for native plants and animals uniquely adapted to this coastal environment. The FONSI and associated documents are accessible by selecting "Document List" from the menu on the column on the left side of this page.
The Seashore has identified several high priority dune areas for potential future restoration, including AT&T, North Beach, Davis, B Ranch, A Ranch, and Limantour. These high priority areas are the focus of the EA, which assesses impacts of alternative methods of removing these invasive plant species. The EA included three action alternatives (Alternatives B-D) that focus on different primary methods for invasive plant removal - - manual removal, chemical treatment, and mechanical removal. Restoration efforts are being coordinated closely with adjacent ranchers to ensure that dune restoration efforts have no or minimal impacts on ranch operations.
Alternative C (Chemical Treatment) was identified in the EA the preferred alternative and is also the selected action. The Seashore follows a very strict Integrated Pest Management approach that emphasizes use of non-chemical means first (and always) unless non-chemical means prove ineffective and threaten park resources through continued spread of non-native, invasive species. The park has tried both manual and mechanical removal since 2000. The biology of European beachgrass makes it a very difficult species to remove by hand, because it roots anywhere from 3- to more than 12-feet deep. While mechanical removal is more effective, it is very, very costly, reducing the acreage of areas that can be restored. In addition, mechanical removal can have repercussions on adjacent habitats and land uses.
In analyzing the potential effects of glyphosate and imazapyr on human health, the EA evaluated the potential risks to park visitors based on exposure routes, chemical, volume of herbicide applied per acre, and application method. Results of these analyses indicate that the potential risks to human health posed by backpack application of low concentrations of herbicide, surfactant, and dye are typically several orders of magnitude below the level that would cause concern.
This document was released to the public for review on January 9, 2015.
Most of the substantive comments received concerned the range of reasonable alternatives or alternative components, the adequacy of information presented on specific aspects of these alternatives (e.g., monitoring, buffers, wetland mitigation plans), and the accuracy and adequacy of information pertaining to impacts on plants, wildlife, and human health from use of herbicides, primarily glyphosate. None of the public comment required modification to the alternatives or substantive changes to the impact analyses.
The NPS's response to comments is provided in the Response to Comments document, which can be found at the websites referenced above, along with a copy of the original comments and an author index to direct Commenters on where to find answers to particular questions. Responses to comments that necessitated correction or addition of factual information - - but did not change evaluation of impact intensity - - were addressed using errata sheets. The combination of the EA and the Errata section comprise the complete and final record on which the FONSI is based.
John A. Dell'Osso, Chief of Interpretation and Public Education