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AGENCIES APPROVE CARGILL SALT PERMIT, WILDLIFE PROJECT

Release Date: 7/12/1995
Contact Information: Liz Varnhagen, U.S. Army COE, (415) 744-3318x248 Cay Goude, U.S. FWS, (916) 979-2725 Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1578 Andy McLeod, CA Resources Agency, (916) 653-5656 Jill Singleton, Cargill Salt, (510) 790-8157 NOTE: Photo of marsh restoration site available upon request by calling (510) 790-8157

   (Newark, California)-- A landmark agreement has been reached
between federal and state regulatory agencies and Cargill Salt
that will guarantee continued environmental protection for the
south San Francisco Bay area while allowing the company to
continue to harvest salt.


     The project is a win for both the salt company and wildlife,
including four endangered species:  the salt marsh harvest mouse,
the least tern, the western snowy plover and the California
Clapper Rail, which live in and around the salt evaporation
ponds.  Some 200 miles of levees enclose 29,000 acres of salt
ponds in the south San Francisco Bay.  About 12,000 acres lie
within the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  These
ponds provide important breeding and wintering habitat for
resident and migratory birds and mammals.


     Cargill entered intense negotiations with the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year
in order to renew a permit to continue solar salt production at
its San Francisco Bay facilities, headquartered in Newark.  The
Clean Water Act requires a permit for any project involving
dredging and filling of wetlands.  These negotiations resulted in
an agreement of conditions for all required permits.  These
actions provide operational certainty for the company in the form
of a permit good for 10 years and permanent habitat enhancements
for the wildlife that live in the impacted area.


                           
     In accordance with the agreement, Cargill will minimize
disturbances to wildlife while preserving the vast salt pond
environment.  In addition, the company will restore 49 acres of
marsh habitat for the salt marsh harvest mouse and California
clapper rail, construct bird islands as protected habitats, and
contribute to on-going predator management activities.


     "This project shows that it is possible to work with the
environmental regulations and still perform the work that is
necessary," said Lieutenant Colonel Michael Walsh, the Corps of
Engineers San Francisco District Engineer.  "This stands as an
example of what can be accomplished when reasonable people go to
the conference table with a willingness to solve the problems."


     "Cargill and the federal government have achieved a
constructive alliance to maintain and protect the salt pond
environment," said William C. Britt, Vice President of Cargill,
Inc.  "This harmonious marriage of economic vitality and
environmental protection will benefit hundreds of wage earners in
the San Francisco Bay Area and preserve the habitat of 30% of the
Bay's waterfowl."


     "This agreement shows how we can use the Endangered Species
Act to resolve conflicts between varying resource uses," said
Wayne White, California State Supervisor for the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service.  "We applaud Cargill's efforts to protect
endangered species of the Bay Area while continuing their solar
salt operations."


     "U.S. EPA would like to thank Cargill, the Corps of
Engineers, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the BCDC, the
California Department of Fish and Game, and the San Francisco Bay
Regional Water Quality Control Board for their cooperative effort
in crafting an agreement that works for Cargill, works for
endangered species, and works for the people of the Bay Area,"
said Alexis Strauss, regional director of water management for
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


     "We applaud Cargill for its public-mindedness in working to
protect California's wetland resources and for demonstrating that
its economic activity can be made compatible with the wetland
resources of the South Bay," stated Douglas Wheeler, California's
Secretary of Resources.


     Agencies involved besides the Corps and the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the
California Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the
California Department of Fish and Game.


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