[Federal Register: July 19, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 137)]
[Page 43010-43011]
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 Laguna Atascosa National 
Wildlife Refuge in Cameron and Willacy Counties, TX

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

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the U.S. 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 Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge 
(Refuge) headquartered near Rio Hondo, Texas. The Refuge is located in 
Cameron and Willacy Counties and includes the Bahia Grande and South 
Padre Island Units.
    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 18, 
2004. 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: John 
Wallace, Refuge Manager, Laguna Atascosa NWR, CCP-Project, P.O. Box 
450, Rio Hondo, TX 78583, phone: (956) 748-3607, fax: (956) 748-3609.
    Information concerning this Refuge may be also found at the 
following Web site: http://southwest.fws.gov.

    Comments submitted via e-mail should be addressed to Chris Perez at 
Chris_Perez@fws.gov or John Wallace at John_Wallace@fws.gov. 

Additionally, you may hand-deliver comments to Mr. Wallace at the 
Refuge, 16 miles east on Highway 106 from Rio Hondo, Texas. 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: Chris Perez, Division of Planning, 
P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103-1306.

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 Refuges 
establishing purposes and the mission of the NWRS.
    Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is located in Cameron and 
Willacy counties, Texas and encompasses 86,905 acres of coastal 
prairie, lomas (clay ridges), resacas (oxbow lakes), native thornbrush, 
tidal saltflat, barrier island habitats 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 Laguna Atascosa 
National Wildlife Refuge. 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 parts 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 

[[Page 43011]]

upon the complexity of issues following the scoping phase of the CCP 
    We estimate that the draft environmental documents will be 
available in fall 2004 for public review and comment.

    Dated: May 3, 2004.
David Yazzie,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, 
New Mexico.
[FR Doc. 04-16344 Filed 7-16-04; 8:45 am]