Environmental Impact Statement on Double-Crested Cormorant Management to Reduce Predation of Juvenile Salmonids in the Columbia River Estuary - Clatsop Co., Ore.
Issue date: October 24, 2012
This notice announces the public scoping process and public meetings (dates, times and locations are listed below) for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District proposal to prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement to manage a large colony of double-crested cormorants nesting on East Sand Island in the Columbia River estuary. The estuary is defined as the region on the Columbia River influenced by ocean tides, extending upriver to Bonneville Dam and to Willamette Falls, south of Portland, on the Willamette River. The Corps is the federal land manager of East Sand Island, and the lead agency under the National Environmental Policy Act for the EIS. The Notice of Intent announcing the Corps’ proposal to prepare a DEIS was published in the Federal Register on July 19, 2012.
This notice also announces the Corps’ web page for this EIS. The EIS page explains more about the issues and research concerning double-crested cormorants in the estuary, lists the schedule for the EIS, and allows users to sign up for our mailing list. We strongly encourage you to review the materials, contact us for additional information and attend one of our three public meetings in November.
The double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) colony on East Sand Island near the mouth of the Columbia River in Clatsop County, Oregon has grown from 100 nesting pairs in 1989 to approximately 13,000 nesting pairs in 2011. The species is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This single-colony is the largest in Western North America. This recent increase has led to concerns over their potential impact on the recovery of threatened and endangered Columbia River basin salmonids (Oncorhynchus spp.; i.e., salmon and steelhead) listed under the Endangered Species Act.
From 2000 to 2010, the colony consumed an average of 8.2 million hatchery and ESA-listed juvenile salmon per year as they migrated out to the Pacific Ocean. In 2010 and 2011, this number increased to an average of 19.2 and 20.5 million respectively. This equates to approximately 18 percent of the entire Columbia River out-migrating salmon for those years.
In 2010, an interagency working group was formed to address the role of double-crested cormorant predation in the estuary on the recovery of ESA-listed salmon. The group identified preliminary management alternatives, which included reducing the colony size on East Sand Island, through various methods, by 25 percent, by 50 percent and by 75 percent.
The methods to reduce the colony size have yet to be determined, but could involve a combination of actions to dissuade cormorants from nesting on the island. These actions may include modifying available habitat; conducting hazing activities during the nesting season to prevent colony establishment; selecting a lethal component (collection of eggs, nests and/or possible take of adults); and monitoring cormorants as they leave the island to determine the potential impacts of their dispersal.
No decisions have been made. The full range of management alternatives to address the predation described above will be developed through the scoping process.
Please come to the public meetings:
Representatives from the Corps and cooperating agencies (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-Wildlife Services and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife) will be on hand to discuss your concerns or comments in an open house format. The meetings will be facilitated to encourage information sharing.
Olympia, Wash. - Nov. 8, 2012 5 – 8 p.m.
415 Capitol Way N.
Olympia, WA 98501
Portland, Ore. - Nov. 13, 2012 5 – 8 p.m.
Red Lion Lloyd Center
1021 NE Grand Ave.
Portland, OR 97232
Astoria, Ore. - Nov. 15, 2012 5 – 8 p.m.
Holiday Inn Express
204 West Marine Dr.
Astoria, OR 97103
And submit your comments:
We are requesting your input in this scoping process to help identify the issues important to analyze in the draft EIS and the range of alternatives and/ or other methods that could be implemented to reduce predation on Columbia River basin juvenile salmon from double-crested cormorants. The overall purpose is to reduce the predation described above.
Comments will be accepted through Dec. 21, 2012. Comments may be made in writing, electronically, by mail or over the phone. They will be categorized and summarized in a Scoping Report and used to inform the Corps’ decision-making process. This is not the only opportunity for you to provide input. There will be additional opportunities to comment during the EIS process.
Address all comments to:
Ms. Sondra Ruckwardt, Project Manager
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District
P.O. Box 2946
Portland, Oregon 97208
Phone: (503) 808-4691