[Federal Register: November 2, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 213)]
[Page 55692-55693]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and 
Environmental Assessment for Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, 
Contra Costa County, California

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces that a Draft 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment (CCP/EA) 
for Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) is available for 
review and comment. This CCP/EA, prepared pursuant to the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 and the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, describes how the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service intends to manage the Refuge for the next 15 years. 
Also available for review with the CCP/EA are draft compatibility 
determinations for environmental education, interpretation, wildlife 
observation, and photography, and research.

DATES: Please submit comments on the Draft CCP/EA on or before December 
3, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Comments of the Draft CCP/EA should be addressed to: Mark 
Pelz, Planning Team Leader, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California/
Nevada Refuge Planning Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-1916, 
Sacramento, CA 95825. Comments may also be submitted via electronic 
mail to FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov. Please type ``Antioch Dunes NWR'' 
in the subject line.

Service, California/Nevada Refuge Planning Office, Room W-1916, 2800 
Cottage Way, Sacramento, California, 95825; 916-414-6500; fax 916-414-


Availability of Documents

    Copies of the Draft CCP/EA may be obtained by writing to U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Attn: Mark Pelz, California/Nevada Refuge 
Planning Office, Room W-1916, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, California, 
95825. Copies of the plan may be viewed at this address or at the San 
Francisco Bay NWR Complex Headquarters, #1 Marshlands Road, Fremont, 
California. The Draft CCP/EA will also be available online for viewing 
and download at http://pacific.fws.gov/planning.


    The Antioch Dunes Refuge was the first National Wildlife Refuge in 
the country established to protect endangered plants and insects. 
Created in 1980 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), this 
riverside Refuge provides protection and critical habitat for three 
endangered species: Lange's metalmark butterfly (Apodemia mormo langei) 
(Lange's), Contra Costa wallflower (Erysimum capitatum ssp. angustatum) 
(wallflower), and Antioch Dunes evening primrose (Oenothera deltoides 
ssp. howellii) (primrose). The Refuge, 55-acres of former dunes, in 
addition to the adjacent 12 acres of Pacific Gas and Electric Company 
(PG&E) land, is an isolated patch of what was once a larger dune system 
that hosted a unique assemblage of plants, insects, and reptiles. A 
major effort is currently underway to restore and improve dune habitat 
on the Refuge. The Refuge staff is based in the San Francisco Bay 
National Wildlife Refuge Complex office in Fremont, California.
    This Draft CCP/EA identifies and evaluates four alternatives for 
managing the Refuge for the next 15 years. Alternative D is the 
Service's preferred alternative.
    Under Alternative A (No Action), current management and public use 
would continue unchanged. The Refuge would continue its current weed 
control program. Various control methods would be used, including hand 
weeding, treating with herbicide, and prescribed fire. As opportunities 
arise, the Refuge would recontour existing sand dunes at the Refuge by 
using heavy equipment to reshape existing sand substrate into steep 
dunes and by importing sand from offsite. The Service would continue to 
outplant primrose, wallflower, and buckwheat on an as-needed basis. 
Annual surveys of the three endangered species would continue. The 
Refuge boundary would remain the same. The Service would continue to 
work to finalize a Cooperative Agreement with PG&E to manage its 
adjacent lands. The Refuge would continue to be closed to public use 
except for occasional staff guided tours for schools and other groups.
    Under Alternative B, the Refuge would be restored and managed to 
pre-industrial natural conditions (oak woodland on sandy soils) with 
limited and controlled public access. Most of the Refuge would be 
managed as upland habitat and blowout areas along the shore would be 
allowed and encouraged to erode and to be colonized by endangered 
species. Nonnative weeds would continue to be controlled using

[[Page 55693]]

the same measures described in Alternative A. Weed control research 
would be expanded. As in Alternative A, the Service would continue to 
recontour existing dunes to make them steeper, as opportunities arise. 
Under this alternative, the Service would plant oak seedlings and 
native grasses in addition to the primrose, wallflower, and buckwheat. 
The Service would continue monitoring the primrose, wallflower, and 
Lange's populations and encouraging research on the Refuge. The Refuge 
boundary would remain the same as under Alternative A. Regularly 
scheduled tours of the Refuge would be conducted by Refuge staff. An 
outreach program would be developed to help expand the Refuge's 
presence and support in the community. Interpretive programs and 
facilities would be developed, including an automobile pull-out with an 
interpretive kiosk and a parking area for school and other groups. The 
Service would also promote the Refuge with teachers and develop an 
educator-led curriculum for Refuge resources.
    Under Alternative C, the Refuge would be managed as a mosaic of 
dune habitat at varying successional stages with unrestricted public 
access. Nonnative weeds would continue to be controlled using the same 
measures as described in Alternative A. The Service would create a 
cycle of disturbance by scraping the soil in a mosaic pattern. In 
addition, the Service would construct additional dunes using imported 
sand in the areas that currently do not provide good habitat for 
endangered species. The Refuge's outplanting program would be expanded 
to include other native plant species, especially plants that are 
either locally significant and/or were historically present. The 
Service would continue monitoring the primrose, wallflower, and Lange's 
populations and encouraging research on the Refuge. Additional studies 
would be undertaken to assess the effects of management actions on 
other plants and animals, including reptiles and invertebrates, at the 
Refuge. Under this alternative, the Refuge would remove nonnative 
species such as Ailanthus and oleander from the river shore to the 
extent possible. Native species would be planted in their place. Parts 
of the river bank would be allowed to experience erosion and blowouts 
so that the endangered plants could colonize them. Under this 
alternative, the Refuge would initiate the Service's land acquisition 
planning process to investigate riparian easement and dune habitat 
acquisition from adjacent land owners. The Refuge would be opened to 
unrestricted access by the public. Environmental education, 
interpretation, wildlife observation, photography, and fishing would be 
allowed on the Refuge. Public use facilities and programs would be 
developed and staffed as described under Alternative B except that 
there would be fewer guided tours. In addition, the Refuge would 
construct a nature trail with interpretive signs, a fishing pier, and a 
    Under Alternative D, the Service's preferred alternative, the 
Refuge would be managed as a mosaic of dune habitat at habitat at 
varying successional stages with limited and controlled public access. 
Nonnative weeds would be controlled using the same measures as 
described in Alternative C. Also, nonnative weeds would be removed in 
some places after spraying by mechanical means to reduce biomass and 
woody nonnative plants would also be removed. Under this alternative, 
restoration and dune construction would be implemented as in 
Alternative C. However, Alternative D, would require more soil scraping 
to create disturbance than Alternative C. Outplanting, riparian 
restoration, monitoring, and land protection planning under this 
alternative would be the same as under Alternative C. Public use 
services and facilities would be similar to those under Alternative B.

    Dated: October 26, 2001.
Steve Thompson,
Acting Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 01-27519 Filed 11-1-01; 8:45 am]