Complex issues bring final funding boost for salmon analysis

06/14/2018

The county contractor hired to complete a long-awaited analysis of the cumulative impacts of development on salmonids in the San Geronimo Valley was allocated another $20,000 last week. Stillwater Sciences was tasked with the analysis, a supplement to an environmental impact report that corresponds with the 2007 Countywide Plan, after the California Court of Appeal in 2014 mandated the county complete the document in response to a lawsuit brought by the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network. The draft of the supplemental report, released last spring, uncovered evidence that development was cumulatively disturbing the reproductive capacity of trout and salmon, though it also said that no effects were significant enough that they could not be ameliorated by mitigation efforts. In addition to addressing the recommended mitigation measures, the county had volunteered to take further actions to reduce impacts. But since releasing the draft report, the county has received public testimony, including over 40 letters and 350 individual comments, that raise “complex legal, policy and technical issues,” according to a county staff report. For its part, SPAWN believes that the draft “provides inadequate mitigation for the significant impacts on spawning and rearing salmonid habitat from future development allowable under the 2007 [Countywide Plan], including direct and indirect impacts to water quality, riparian habitat, spawning, nursery and rearing habitats and to endangered and threatened salmonid species.” Last Tuesday, supervisors voted unanimously to increase funding to Stillwater Sciences by $20,000, for a total of $279,106, so it can address public concerns in the final document, which is expected to be released by the end of July. Until then, the county must rely on its 1994 Countywide Plan when analyzing development projects in the valley.