[Federal Register: March 2, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 42)]
[Page 11338-11340]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Intent To Prepare a Comprehensive Conservation Plan and 
an Associated Environmental Assessment for the Turnbull National 
Wildlife Refuge; and Notice of Public Meetings

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare a Comprehensive Conservation Plan 
and associated environmental assessment; and notice of public meetings.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (Service) is preparing a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) 
and an Environmental Assessment for Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge 
(Refuge), Stevens County, Washington. The Service is furnishing this 
notice in compliance with Service CCP policy and the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and implementing regulations for the 
following purposes: (1) To advise other agencies and the public of our 
intentions; (2) to obtain suggestions and information on the issues to 
be addressed in the CCP; and (3) to announce public meetings for 
scoping. We estimate that the draft CCP and associated Environmental 
Assessment will be available in March of 2001.

[[Page 11339]]

DATES: Submit comments on or before April 3, 2000. The Service will 
host two public meetings, the first on February 29, 2000, and the 
second on March 1, 2000. See ADDRESSES for meeting locations.

ADDRESSES: Address comments and requests for more information to: 
Refuge Manager, Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, 26010 South Smith 
Road, Cheney, Washington, 99004. Public meetings will be held on 
February 26, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Cheney High School Library, 460 
North 6th Street, Cheney, Washington, and March 1, from 6 to 9 p.m. at 
Spokane Falls Community College, Building 17, Lounges A, B, and C, at 
3410 West Fort George Right Drive, Spokane, Washington.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nancy Curry, Refuge Manager (509) 235-


Background Information

    The Service is beginning the process of developing a 15-year 
management plan for Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge has 
recently completed a Habitat Management Plan, which outlines objectives 
and strategies for managing Refuge habitats in a way to achieve the 
Refuge purpose and the system mission. The Refuge also recently 
completed a Fire Management Plan. These two plans will be incorporated 
with no anticipated changes to the CCP.
    The CCP will include the following topics: (1) An assessment of 
existing public uses on the Refuge and within the region; (2) an 
assessment of Refuge facilities and programs available for public use 
and enjoyment; (3) the biological and physical resources and their 
condition (to be excerpted from the Habitat Management Plan); (4) 
identification of the long term goals and objectives of the Refuge, 
consistent with the National Wildlife Refuge System mission; (5) 
strategies for management of public access and uses, including but not 
limited to the existing uses of wildlife observation and photography, 
environmental education and interpretation, and hiking; (6) strategies 
for management of other Refuge resources including cultural resources; 
and (7) strategies for protecting neighboring resources that affect the 
Refuge. In addition, the habitat and fire management objectives and 
strategies already described in the Habitat Management Plan and the 
Fire Management Plan will be incorporated into this document.
    We have identified preliminary issues and opportunities to address 
in the CCP. Comments and concerns received will be used to identify 
additional issues and prepare draft alternatives. The preliminary 
issues fall under two categories, Public Uses and Land Protection. 
Brief descriptions of those issues follow.
    Public Uses. The new Refuge Improvement Act specifies that hunting, 
among other wildlife-dependent uses, is to be considered. Turnbull 
Refuge has always been closed to hunting. There are concerns about 
whether a large enough area exists for safe big game hunting, whether 
the big game population is in need of harvest management, and whether 
or not fall waterfowl populations are large enough in this area to 
support a recreational hunt.
    Does the public wish to see any further developments in the public 
use area (i.e., improved access, expansion of the public use area, 
added facilities, interpretive signs, and staff facilitated 
activities)? What effect would expanded public uses have on existing 
wildlife populations and distribution? Is the current sanctuary status 
of the Refuge a necessary benefit to wildlife in an area of rapid urban 
    A recent ``rails-to-trails'' conversion has occurred in the area 
and five miles of the Columbia Plateau Trail, extending from Pasco to 
Spokane, now runs right through the heart of the Refuge's closed area. 
Visitors on this trail will possibly triple Refuge visitation. The 
staff at the Refuge has concerns about managing this new use.
    Should the Service support community demand for environmental 
education and interpretation on the Refuge?
    Land Protection. The Refuge recently completed a Habitat Management 
Plan which identified the protection of water quality and quantity and 
the protection of native habitat and species as Refuge goals. These 
goals include objectives to protect Refuge water sources, water 
quality, and key habitats that affect Refuge resources from outside the 
current boundary. These goals also support the maintenance of 
biologically effective landscape linkages and corridors between the 
Refuge and other undeveloped areas of this ecoregion. Several tools 
exist to accomplish this, ranging from public education to voluntary 
conservation by neighboring landowners, partnerships and incentive 
programs such as the consideration of conservation easements on private 
land, and land acquisition from willing sellers. The CCP will explore 
various strategies for protecting the lands and habitats within the 

Public Meetings

    With the publication of this notice, the public is encouraged to 
attend public meetings and/or submit written comments for staff to 
consider in developing the CCP. Two public scoping meetings will be 
held in February. The format will be a presentation on the planning 
process and the Refuge followed by facilitated breakout sessions to 
record public interests. Dates, locations, and times follow.
    (1) February 29, 2000, 6 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Cheney High School 
Library, 460 N. 6th Street, Cheney, Washington, 99004. The presentation 
portion of the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.
    (2) March 1, 2000, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Spokane Falls Community 
College, Building 17, Lounges A, B, and C, 3410 West Fort George Right 
Drive, Spokane, Washington, 99224. The presentation portion of the 
meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Public Comments

    Comments already received are on record and need not be 
resubmitted. All comments received from individuals on Environmental 
Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements become part of the 
official public record. Requests for such comments will be handled in 
accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, the Council on 
Environmental Quality's NEPA regulations (40CFR 1506.6(f)), and other 
Service and Departmental policy and procedures. When requested, the 
Service generally will provide comment letters with the names and 
addresses of the individuals who wrote the comments. However, telephone 
numbers of commenting individuals will not be provided in response to 
such requests to the extent permissible by law. Additionally, public 
comment letters are not required to contain the commentator's name, 
address, or other identifying information. Such comments may be 
submitted anonymously to the Service.
    The environmental review of this project will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), NEPA Regulations (40 
CFR 1500-1508), other appropriate Federal laws and regulations, the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, and Service 
policies and procedures for compliance with those regulations.

[[Page 11340]]

    Dated: February 24, 2000.
William B. Zimmerman,
Acting Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 00-4974 Filed 3-1-00; 8:45 am]