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Archived News Release from 2004

For Immediate Release

Redwood City to Offer Alternative Bair Island Restoration Plan, Desires Community Partnership with National Wildlife Refuge System

Redwood City, CA - August 26 , 2004 - Bair Island is one of the nation’s premier urban wildlife refuges, cherished by the citizens of Redwood City, the peninsula, and the entire region. The protection of this irreplaceable natural treasure is of utmost importance to Redwood City. The City has been actively involved with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), and other stakeholders through the lengthy planning and analysis process that will lead to the restoration of tidal wetlands and natural habitat of the island.

To supplement and enhance the restoration plan created by the NWRS, the City has been developing an alternative plan that offers full protection to Bair Island’s inherent environmental features, while providing the opportunity for low-intensity public access and appreciation of the island’s unique qualities. It is the City’s belief that only through such appreciation can the community gain a full understanding of Bair Island’s environmental values and the need for long-term, sensitive stewardship of this open space, in the midst of an urban setting.

The community of Redwood City is offering to become a major partner with the NWRS in the restoration and long-term protection of Bair Island. The City has worked diligently on this issue in an effort to balance the need to protect the environmental values of Bair Island with the public’s desire and need for respectful and sensitive access and appreciation. “We see Bair Island as a major opportunity to enhance the quality of life for children, seniors, families, and our environment,” said Mayor Jeff Ira.

The public comment period for the FWS/NWRS plan will begin on Friday, August 27th, and the Plan will be available through the Federal Register (www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/). The City’s restoration plan will be discussed and offered for City Council approval at its meeting on Monday, September 13th 2004, in City Hall at 1017 Middlefield Road, beginning at 7 pm. Then, the FWS will be holding a public hearing on its restoration plan on Wednesday, September 22nd at 7 pm in the Redwood Room of Veterans Memorial Senior Center, 1455 Madison Avenue in Redwood City.

As an example of the partnership desired by the City, action by the Mayor and City Council members expedited completion of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the NWRS’ Bair Island plan. When the EIS, prepared by the FWS, was submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior for approval, environmental advocates expressed their fears to City leaders that politics in Washington D.C. might stall the EIS. In an expression of the City’s support for restoring and protecting Bair Island, and with an eye toward maximum public participation in the planning process, Mayor Ira, after consulting Council members Barbara Pierce and Rosanne Foust, stepped in and wrote a letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, successfully requesting that the EIS be expedited.

The public is invited to attend both the September 13th City Council meeting and the September 22nd FWS public hearing at which both the FWS restoration plan and the City’s complementary plan will be discussed. Visit Redwood City’s website at www.redwoodcity.org for information about the City and its services, the community, recreation programs, education, and City government.

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Contact:
Jeff Ira, Mayor
(650) 802-8668

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