Project Environmental Protection Documents and Outreach
The Town has been proactive in its environmental considerations of Town-owned open spaces and the Fire Hazard Mitigation and Fuel Reduction Project. The Town has taken and will continue to take many steps to make this project as environmentally friendly as possible. It has worked hard to balance the real need to reduce wildfire risk within Town owned open spaces with the need to also preserve and project native flora, fauna, ecosystems and watersheds and to maintain the aesthetic beauty and privacy that the Town-owned open space areas afford Hillsborough residents. Following is a list of the steps that the Town is taking or will take to protect the environment and aesthetics in its open space areas while reducing the risk of wildfire. The Town:
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 Opinion and environmental mitigation (protection) measures.
Has undergone its own California Environmental Quality Review Act review, which includes the preparation of a Draft Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration, which includes forty-one mitigation measures to protect wildlife and the environment.
Hired a consulting biologist, Loran May & Associates, to provide technical assistance to the Town for environmental considerations for this project.
Hired 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, woodrat 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 light weight, 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.
FEMA’s National Environmental Protection Act Review (NEPA)
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 has 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 & Associates; various consultations with the Town’s consulting biologist, Loran May & 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 Findings 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 has variously met with the Town’s Planning and Public Works Departments, as well as the Town’s consulting biologist, Loran May & 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 forty-one 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;
Woodrat nest protection and handling; and
The Town encourages interested parties to review the CEQA review documents for detailed information. The Public Comment period for the Project’s CEQA review is from May 6 to June 6, 2013. There will be a public hearing for the Mitigated Negative Declaration and the project at the June 10, 2013 City Council meeting. The CEQA review and mitigated measures and reporting plan were adopted by City Council on June 10, 2013.
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 habitat 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 is committed to getting community input and buy-in for this important project, and has put into motion a dynamic community outreach effort which includes:
Posting Detailed Project Information on the Town’s Website;
Publishing Articles in the Town’s Quarterly Newsletter;
Providing Project Notification and Updates 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 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 – June 6); and
Holding a CEQA review hearing (June 10).
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 and Requests for Information
The Town welcomes resident’s feedback regarding this project, both positive or otherwise, and questions and comments regarding this project can be directed to Ed Cooney, Project Manager