[Federal Register: March 31, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 61)]
[Page 15372-15373]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability (NOA) of a Final Environmental Impact 
Statement on the Proposed Expansion of the Big Muddy National Fish and 
Wildlife Refuge in Missouri

ACTION: Notice of Availability.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that a Final Environmental 
Impact Statement on the Proposed Expansion of the Big Muddy National 
Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Missouri will be available for public 
review beginning March 30, 1999. Comments and suggestions are invited.

DATES: Comments may be submitted until May 3, 1999, and will be 
considered during preparation of the Record of Decision.

[[Page 15373]]

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to: Ms. Judy McClendon, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 24385 State Highway 51, Puxico, Missouri 
63960. Telephone: Toll-free 800/686-8339; or 573/222-6001. Individuals 
with speech or hearing impairments may call the Missouri Relay Services 
at 800/735-2966 (TTY). Fax: 573/222-6150. E-Mail: R3planning@fws.gov or 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Judy McClendon at the address, phone 
number, or E-Mail above. Individuals wishing copies of this 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for review should immediately 
contact the above individual. Copies of the EIS or Summary have been 
sent to all agencies and individuals who participated in the scoping 
process and to all others who have already requested copies.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Ms. Judy McClendon, Wildlife Biologist, is 
the primary author of this document. The Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), Department of the Interior, has prepared a final EIS on the 
proposal to expand the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in 
Missouri from its currently authorized 16,628 acres to a total of 
60,000 acres.
    The Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge expansion would be 
accomplished by acquiring from willing sellers an additional 43,372 
acres along the 20-county Missouri River floodplain from Kansas City, 
Missouri, to St. Louis, Missouri, and the lower 10 miles of major 
tributaries. Acquisition could include methods such as fee title 
purchase, easements or agreements with landowners, partnerships, or 
donations. Selection criteria, such as willing sellers, presence of 
remnant floodplain ecosystems, and potential ecosystem restoration 
capabilities, will be used to determine specific sites for acquisition. 
Management goals of the Big Muddy project are to restore acquired 
acreage to a natural floodplain condition which could include restoring 
bottomland forests, improve and restore wetland values, improve fishery 
and wildlife resources, and provide additional public use areas for 
fish and wildlife dependent recreation.
    This action is designed to preserve and restore the natural river 
floodplain ecosystem, allow for management of viable and diverse fish 
and wildlife habitats, and provide for compatible fish and wildlife 
dependent recreation.
    The major alternatives under consideration that were analyzed and 
evaluated during planning are: (A) No Action. The Big Muddy National 
Fish and Wildlife Refuge would not be expanded beyond the currently 
authorized 16,628 acres. This acreage figure amounts to 2.7 percent of 
the 800,000 acre floodplain in this reach of the Missouri River and is 
insufficient to protect the health of the Missouri River floodplain 
ecosystem; (B) Expand the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge 
to 60,000 acres by acquisition of 43,372 acres dispersed along the 
Missouri River corridor from its confluence with the Kansas River, near 
Kansas City, to its confluence with the Mississippi River, near St. 
Louis, Missouri. Expansion under Alternative B (Preferred) would allow 
approximately 8 percent of riverine habitat losses of the Missouri 
River and its floodplain from Kansas City to St. Louis, Missouri to be 
restored. This amount of floodplain ecosystem preservation, along with 
a combined 30,000 acres to be acquired by the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers and the Missouri Department of Conservation, will equal about 
12 percent of the subject floodplain. Natural resource managers in the 
Midwest recommend preserving 10 to 20 percent of the floodplain.
    Three other alternatives were considered but not analyzed. They 
include: (C) seek permanent protection of fish, wildlife, and habitats 
through cooperative agreements with landowners and other agencies with 
no acquisition of lands; (D) encourage private land programs to 
preserve or restore fish, wildlife, and their habitats without further 
acquisition; and (E) acquire the entire Missouri River floodplain from 
Kansas City to St. Louis, Missouri, about 800,000 acres.
    Alternatives, C, D, And E were rejected because they did not have 
the capacity to address the Service's mandated responsibilities, did 
not provide permanent resource protection and restoration 
opportunities, failed to meet the purpose and need for which the Big 
Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge was established, or were 
considered to be impractical and cost-prohibitive.
    Other governmental agencies and members of the general public 
contributed to the planning and evaluation of the proposal and to the 
preparation of the EIS. The Notice of Intent to prepare the EIS was 
published in the Federal Register on November 28, 1995. Public open 
house meetings to receive comments on the Draft EIS were held in five 
locations in November 1997; a 90-day public comment period began in 
November 1997, and closed February 17, 1998. Over 500 comments were 
received and considered during preparation of the Final EIS. The 
Service gave presentations to county officials, conservation groups, 
other interested parties and the media, and informed the public through 
intermittent distribution of the Big Muddy Update. The Service's 
mailing list has over 1,800 names.
    All comments received by May 3, 1999, will be considered in 
preparation of the Record of Decision for this proposed action.

    Dated: March 22, 1999.
William F. Hartwig,
Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 99-7870 Filed 3-30-99; 8:45 am]