[Federal Register: August 30, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 169)]
[Page 55862-55863]
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 
Associated Environmental Assessment for the Aransas National Wildlife 
Refuge Complex in Aransas, Refugio, and Calhoun Counties, Texas

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to prepare a Comprehensive Conservation Plan 
and Associated Environmental Assessment for the Aransas National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the Fish and Wildlife 
Service (Service) intends to gather information necessary to prepare a 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and environmental documents 
pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its 
implementing regulations, for the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge 
Complex (ANWRC) headquartered near Austwell, Texas. The ANWRC is 
located in Aransas, Refugio and Calhoun Counties and includes the 
Matagorda Island Unit.
    The Service is issuing this Notice in compliance with the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as amended (16 
U.S.C. 668dd et seq.):
    (1) To advise other agencies, organizations and the public of our 
intentions, and
    (2) To obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to 
be considered in the planning process.

DATES: Special mailings, newspaper articles, postings, and media 
announcements will inform people of opportunities for written input 
throughout the CCP planning process. Refuge fact sheets will be made 
available at local libraries in the surrounding communities. This 
notice of intent/public scoping process will continue until October 29, 
2002. Written comments submitted by mail or e-mail should be postmarked 
by that date to ensure consideration. Comments mailed after that date 
will be considered to the extent practical. Inquire at the following 
address for future dates of planning activity and due dates for 

ADDRESSES: Address comments and requests for more information to: 
Charles Holbrook, Refuge Manager, Aransas NWRC, CCP-Project, PO Box 
100, Austwell, TX 77950, phone:(361) 286-3559, fax: (361) 286-3722.
    Information concerning this Refuge may be also found at the 
following website: http://southwest.fws.gov.
    Comments submitted via E-mail should be addressed to Bernice 
Jackson at bernice--jackson@fws.gov or Felipe Prieto at felipe--
prieto@fws.gov. Additionally, you may hand-deliver comments to Mr. 
Holbrook, Mrs. Jackson or Mr. Prieto at Aransas National Wildlife 
Refuge, 7 miles southeast of Austwell, Texas on FM 2040. Our practice 
is to make comments, including names and addresses of respondents, 
available for public review during regular business hours. Individual 
respondents may request that we withhold their home address from the 
rulemaking record, which we will honor to the extent allowable by law.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carol Torrez, Division of Planning, PO 
Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103-1306.

[[Page 55863]]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act of 1997 requires that all lands within the National 
Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) be managed in accordance with an approved 
CCP. The CCP guides management decisions and identifies refuge goals, 
long-range objectives and strategies for achieving refuge purposes. 
Each Refuge in the NWRS has specific purposes for which it was 
established. Those purposes are used to develop and prioritize 
management goals and objectives within the National Wildlife Refuge 
System mission and to guide which public uses will occur on a given 
    The planning process will consider many elements, including habitat 
and wildlife management, habitat protection and acquisition, wilderness 
preservation, public recreational opportunities, industrial use and 
cultural resources. Public input into this planning process is 
essential. The planning process is a way for the Service and the public 
to evaluate refuge management goals and objectives for the best 
possible conservation efforts of this important wildlife habitat. 
Concurrently, this process is also providing for wildlife-dependent 
recreation opportunities that are compatible with each Refuge's 
establishing purposes and the mission of the NWRS.
    The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge Complex is located in Aransas, 
Refugio and Calhoun Counties, Texas and encompasses 115,670 acres of 
coastal prairie, oak woodland and savannah, barrier island and salt and 
freshwater marshes. The CCP will provide other agencies and the public 
with a clear understanding of the desired conditions for the Refuge and 
how the Service will implement management strategies for the 
conservation and development of these natural resources.
    The Service through this notice of intent formally begins the 
comprehensive conservation planning process for the Aransas National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex. The Service requests input on any and all 
issues concerning management or public recreation. Comments regarding 
the protection of threatened and/or endangered species, migratory 
birds, native species and their habitats are encouraged. The Service is 
equally interested in receiving public input in the following areas:
     What makes this Refuge special for you?
     What Refuge projects or activities interest you most?
     What problems or issues do you see affecting management or 
public use of the Refuge?
     What improvements do you recommend for the Refuge?
     What changes, if any, would you like to see in the 
management of the Refuge?
    The Service has provided the above questions for optional use only. 
The Planning Team developed these questions to facilitate issues and 
ideas. Comments received will be used as part of the planning process. 
Individual comments will not be referenced in our reports or directly 
responded to.
    The Service will continue to solicit information from the public 
and other agencies via open houses, meetings, and written comments. 
Special mailings, newspaper releases, and announcements will continue 
to inform people of the time and place of opportunities for further 
input to the CCP.
    Review of this project will be conducted in accordance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 
et seq.), NEPA Regulations (40 CFR 1500-1508) found at (http://
www.legal.gsa.gov), other appropriate Federal laws, and Service 
policies and procedures for compliance with those regulations.
    The Service will prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) in 
accordance with procedures for implementing NEPA found in the 
Department of the Interior Manual (DM Part 516, Chap 6). The decision 
to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement instead of an EA is 
contingent upon the complexity of issues following the scoping phase of 
the CCP process.
    We estimate that the draft environmental documents will be 
available in summer 2003 for public review and comment.

    Dated: July 18, 2002.
H. Dale Hall,
Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 02-22134 Filed 8-29-02; 8:45 am]