[Federal Register: September 29, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 188)]
[Page 52516-52517]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan 
and Environmental Assessment for Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife 
Refuge in Collier County, FL, and Notice of Meeting To Seek Public 

SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Southeast Region, has made available for public review a Draft 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment for Ten 
Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Collier County, Florida, 
and plans to hold a public meeting in the vicinity of the refuge to 
solicit public comments on the draft plan. The Service is furnishing 
this notice in compliance with Service comprehensive conservation 
planning policy, the National Environmental Act Policy, and 
implementing regulations to achieve the following:
    (1) Advise other agencies and the public of our intentions, and
    (2) Obtain comments on the proposed plan and the other alternatives 
considered in the planning process.

[[Page 52517]]

DATES: The Service will hold the public meeting on Saturday, October 
23, 1999, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Fish and Wildlife Service office 
located in the Comfort Inn, 3860 Tollgate Boulevard, Naples, Florida 
34114. In addition, written comments on the draft plan should be sent 
no later than November 8, 1999, to the address given below.

ADDRESSES: Comments and requests for copies of the draft plan should be 
addressed to Mr. Ed Loth, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast 
Regional Office, 1875 Century Boulevard, Atlanta, Georgia 30345, or by 
calling 404/679-7155.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife 
Refuge consists of approximately 35,000 acres located approximately 20 
miles southeast of Naples, Florida, and South of U.S. Highway 41. The 
refuge was established under the authority of the Florida/Arizona Land 
Exchange Act in order to develop, advance, manage, conserve and protest 
its unique estuarine ecosystem and fish and wildlife resources. The 
refuge represents a variety of coastal habitats including mangrove 
forests, freshwater marsh systems, interspersed freshwater ponds, and 
small islands or hammocks of upland habitat.
    It is the desire of the Fish and Wildlife Service that Ten Thousand 
Islands National Wildlife Refuge become ``a model for natural systems 
management, featuring unique coastal marshes, islands, and subtropical 
estuarine mangrove ecosystems. The refuge will provide essential 
habitat for threatened and endangered species and be an area noted for 
its cultural resources.
    Through effective management and partnering, the refuge will 
provide outstanding recreational opportunities for present and future 
generations.'' To accomplish this vision, the refuge seeks to achieve 
the following six goals: (1) Wildlife and Habitat Conservation--
conserve, enhance, and protect fish and wildlife resources and other 
natural values supported within the refuge portion of this unique south 
Florida coastal ecosystem; (2) Public Use--Provide visitors with 
quality recreational opportunities, guided by the refuge's vision and 
mission, and compatible with its purpose; (3) Commercial Use--co-manage 
sustained-yield commercial harvesting, guiding, and other enterprises 
that are compatible with the purpose of the refuge; (3) Environmental 
Education--promote the interpretation, education, and appreciation of 
coastal natural resources for the Ten Thousand Islands area, and the 
importance of conserving them; (5) Cooperative Management--promote 
cooperation among agencies, private landowners, organizations, and 
other stakeholders in the management of natural and cultural resources 
within the Big Cypress Watershed; and (6) Archaeological Resources--
protect refuge cultural resources, encourage archaeological 
investigations, and promote interpretation and appreciation of the 
area's history.
    The draft plan evaluates three alternatives for managing the refuge 
over the next 15 years: Alternative A (no action) advocates that the 
refuge be managed with minimal monitoring and management direction; 
Alternative B (ecosystem approach) would allow recreational and 
commercial activities to continue coupled with extensive monitoring 
programs to assess the quality of the environment; and Alternative C 
(maximum public use) emphasizes fishing as well as many other 
recreational pursuits for the refuge. The Service believes that 
Alternative B (ecosystem approach) is the best alternative to guide the 
refuge's future direction. In essence, this alternative will:
    <bullet> Best meet the primary purposes for which the refuge was 
established--protecting and enhancing the refuge's unique estuarine 
    <bullet> Recognize the importance of the refuge within the Big 
Cypress Watershed and define refuge actions to protect and enhance the 
natural features of this ecosystem;
    <bullet> Continue to provide the public access to the refuge; 
visitation would be monitored for its impacts on flora and fauna; and
    <bullet> Ensure that environmental education and partnership 
efforts increase.

    Dated: September 14, 1999.
Sam D. Hamilton,
Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 99-25255 Filed 9-28-99; 8:45 am]