Project Environmental Protection

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 many steps to make this project as environmentally friendly as possible. It has worked hard to balance the need to reduce wildfire risk within Town-owned open spaces with the need to preserve and protect native wildlife and watersheds and to maintain the aesthetic beauty and privacy that the Town-owned open spaces afford Hillsborough residents. Following is a list of the steps that the Town is taking 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 (PDF) (FONSI)
  • Has undergone a review by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife which resulted in a Biological Opinion (PDF)and environmental mitigation (protection) measures
  • Has undergone its own California Environmental Quality Review Act review, which includes the preparation of an Initial Study (PDF) and Mitigated Negative Declaration (PDF), 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.
  • Surveys, identifies, clearly marks, and avoids endangered and sensitive species areas, bird nests, wood rat nests, and other environmentally sensitive areas
  • Maintains a 200-foot buffer around water ways that help protect wildlife in riparian habitat
  • Avoids ground disturbance and the use of heavy, high PSI equipment in vegetated areas
  • Emphasizes the use of lightweight, low PSI equipment and hand tools to cut shrubs and woody plants
  • Emphasizes the removal of invasive plant species over native plant species wherever possible
  • Utilizes integrated pest management techniques wherever feasible to minimize the use of herbicides to control invasive plant species
  • Chips / Cuts and leave green waste to decompose on-site to help maintain soils and avoid erosion
  • Avoids work during bird nesting season, where feasible.

FEMA's National Environmental Protection Act Review (NEPA)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was the grant funder for this project. AECOM was 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 (PDF) 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

The Town encourages interested parties to review the CEQA review documents for detailed information. The Public Comment period for the Project's CEQA review was from May 6 to June 6, 2013. There was 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.

Draft Documents

Documents with Comments Incorporated

Fish & Game Biological Opinion

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 (PDF) 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.

Public Outreach

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).

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.