Project Environmental Protection
- Worked with FEMA to complete a National Environmental Review Act review of the project, which resulted in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)
- Has undergone a review by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife which resulted in a Biological Opinionand environmental mitigation (protection) measures
- Has undergone its own California Environmental Quality Review Act review, which includes the preparation of aDraft Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration, which includes 41 mitigation measures to protect wildlife and the environment
- Hired a consulting biologist, Loran May and Associates, to provide technical assistance to the Town for environmental considerations for this project
- Hired a certified Fish and Wildlife biologist to monitor for endangered species during the project, as required
- Will survey, identify, clearly mark, and avoid endangered and sensitive species areas, bird nests, wood rat nests, and other environmentally sensitive areas
- Will maintain a 200-foot buffer around water ways that will help protect wildlife in riparian habitat
- Will avoid ground disturbance and will not use heavy, high PSI equipment in vegetated areas
- Will emphasize the use of lightweight, low PSI equipment and hand tools to cut shrubs and woody plants
- Will emphasize the removal of invasive plant species over native plant species wherever possible
- Will use integrated pest management techniques wherever feasible and allowable to minimize the use of herbicides to control invasive plant species
- Will chip / cut and leave green waste to decompose on-site to help maintain soils and avoid erosion
- Will minimize or, if feasible, avoid work during bird nesting season
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the grant funder for this project. URS Corporation is the environmental review consultant for FEMA and in that capacity prepared National Environmental Policy Act regulatory compliance review for FEMA for this project. The process included meetings and document gathering efforts by URS Corporation with the Town, which variously included the Public Works, Planning, and Central County Fire Departments; several site visits to the project areas with Town representatives, a Fish and Wildlife representative, and Loran May and Associates; various consultations with the Town's consulting biologist, Loran May and Associates; coordination with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife; and oversight by FEMA. These efforts ultimately resulted in the completion of the NEPA review process and a filing of a Finding of No Significant Impact by FEMA.
Hillsborough's California Environmental Protection Act Review
URS Corporation was hired by the Town in 2009 to conduct the Town's CEQA review. In that capacity, the consultant variously met with the Town's Planning and Public Works departments, as well as the Town's consulting biologist, Loran May and Associates, to gather necessary information for the preparation of the Town's Draft Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration. URS appropriately relied upon and incorporated the NEPA compliance review process and findings, as well as the Biological Assessment and Biological Opinion prepared by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, into the Town's Draft Initial Study. As a result of these efforts, URS has prepared a Draft Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Town, which include determinations and mitigation measures.
The Initial Study determined that the proposed project would not have a significant effect upon the environment for the following reasons:
- The proposed project would have no impact or less-than-significant impacts on Aesthetics, Agricultural and Forest Resources, Air Quality, Cultural Resources, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Hazards and Hazardous Materials, Hydrology and Water Quality, Land Use and Planning, Mineral Resources, Noise, Population and Housing, Public Services, Recreation, Transportation / Traffic, and Utilities and Service Systems.
- Potentially significant adverse impacts would be mitigated to less-than-significant levels for Biological Resources and Geology and Soils.
The Town's Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration resulted in 41 mitigation measures to protect wildlife and the environment. Some of the mitigations include:
- Certified biological surveying, monitoring, and endangered and sensitive species protection;
- Notification requirements for endangered species discovery, injury, or death;
- Invasive species control;
- Trash avoidance and site maintenance;
- Water quality protection;
- Hazardous materials handling and emergency spill measures;
- Herbicide handling and use;
- Control of the spread of amphibian disease;
- Wood rat nest protection and handling;
- Reporting requirements.
- Notice of Intent to Adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration
- Notice of Completion Environmental Document Transmittal
- Mitigated Negative Declaration
- Initial Study - Hillsborough Fire Hazard Mitigation and Fuel Reduction Program
- Hillsborough Fire Hazard Mitigation and Fuel Reduction Program Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Plan
- Mitigated Negative Declaration
- Final Initial Study
- CEQA Notice of Determination
Since this project takes place in potential California red-legged frog and San Francisco garter snake habitat, it required review and approval from the California Fish and Wildlife Department. The Department reviewed the Town's project, conducted site visits, conducted research, and provided a Biological Opinion on this project. The Biological Opinion includes mitigation measures which the Town will follow in order to mitigate potential harm to endangered species which may be present in Town-owned open spaces.
With this project, the Town is trying very hard to balance the need to reduce wildfire risk in Town-owned open spaces and protect private property and lives with the desire to protect endangered, sensitive, and other flora and fauna and habitats and to preserve the aesthetic appearance of Town-owned open space areas. It is a very delicate balancing act, to be sure. For this reason, the Town fostered community input and buy-in for this important project, and conducted significant community outreach which includes:
- Posting detailed project information on the Town's website;
- Publishing articles in the Town's quarterly newsletter;
- Providing project notification and updates in Hillsborough Together emails;
- Direct mailing notification and outreach pieces to residents;
- Presenting to community organizations;
- Hosting public meetings about the project;
- Posting public notices on Town government billboards and in the San Mateo County Times;
- Discussing the project in public City Council meetings;
- Posting and disseminating the Town's CEQA notice of intent for the project;
- Providing a CEQA public comment period (May 6 to June 6, 2013);
- Holding a CEQA review hearing (June 10, 2013).
The Town held two public meetings in May 2013 for residents interested in learning more about this important project. The Town may hold additional public meetings as needed.
Questions, Comments & Requests for Information
The Town welcomes resident's feedback regarding this project, both positive or otherwise. Questions and comments regarding this project can be directed to Ed Cooney, Project Manager, at 650-579-3355 or via email.