[Federal Register: October 11, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 195)]
[Page 59078-59079]
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 
Environmental Assessment for the Handy Brake National Wildlife Refuge 
and the Louisiana Wetland Management District

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY:  The Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region, intends to 
gather information necessary to prepare a comprehensive conservation 
plan and environmental assessment pursuant to

[[Page 59079]]

the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and its implementing 
    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as 
amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, 
requires the Service to develop a comprehensive conservation plan for 
each national wildlife refuge. The purpose in developing a 
comprehensive conservation plan is to provide refuge managers with a 
15-year strategy for achieving refuge purposes and contributing toward 
the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge system, consistent with 
sound principles of fish and wildlife management, conservation, legal 
mandates, and Service policies. In addition to outlining broad 
management direction on conserving wildlife and their habitats, plans 
identify wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities available to the 
public, including opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife 
observation, wildlife photography, and environmental education and 
    The purpose of this notice is to achieve the following:
    (1) Advise other agencies and the public of our intentions, and
    (2) Obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to 
include in the environmental document.

DATES: An open house style meeting will be held during the scoping 
phase and public draft phase of the comprehensive conservation plan 
development process. Special mailings, newspaper articles, and other 
media announcements will be used to inform the public and state and 
local government agencies of the dates and opportunities for input 
throughout the planning process. The planning process for the Louisiana 
Wetland Management District and Handy Brake National Wildlife Refuge 
will be conducted in conjunction with each other.

ADDRESSES: Comments and requests for more information regarding the 
Louisiana Wetland Management District planning process should be sent 
to Lindy Garner, Planning Biologist, North Louisiana National Wildlife 
Refuge Complex, 11372 Highway 143, Farmerville, Louisiana 71241; 
Telephone: (318) 726-4222 x5; Fax: (318) 726-4667; Electronic-mail: 
northlarefuges@fws.gov. To ensure consideration, written comments must 

be received no later than November 25, 2005.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 addresses from the record, which we 
will honor to the extent allowable by law.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:  The Louisiana Wetland Management District 
was established in September 1990 ``* * * for conservation purposes * * 
*'' 7 U.S.C. 2002 (Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act). Most 
of the 37 Farm Service Agency easements, 10 fee title tracts, and 4 
leases are concentrated in northeastern Louisiana. In 1988, the first 
fee title transfer of a Farm Service Agency tract in the Southeast 
Region resulted in the establishment of Handy Brake National Wildlife 
Refuge. The wetland management district currently oversees Fish and 
Wildlife Service interests on about 10,000 acres. This refuge is 
combined with D'Arbonne, Upper Ouachita, Black Bayou Lake, and Red 
River National Wildlife Refuges to form the North Louisiana National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex. The wetland management district encompasses 
several parishes in the northern half of Louisiana: Natchitoches, 
Grant, Richland, Morehouse, West Carroll, and East Carroll.
    Habitat management within the wetland management district focuses 
primarily on reforestation of marginal agricultural areas and 
development and maintenance of moist-soil units. Mowing, discing, 
burning, and/or spraying is periodically required to maintain early 
successional stages.
    The varied habitat on lands within the wetland management district 
provide for a diverse array of wildlife. Bald eagles and peregrine 
falcons are known to occur on the district. Both are usually associated 
with large waterfowl concentrations. Small concentrations (< 1,000) of 
waterfowl are seen on the easement tracts and on Handy Brake Refuge, 
depending upon the availability of water. Migratory songbirds also use 
several of the tracts and Handy Brake Refuge. Resident furbearers 
include fox, gray squirrels, rabbits, deer, beaver, and raccoon.
    There are limited wildlife observation opportunities at Handy Brake 
Refuge and other fee title tracts within the Louisiana Wetland 
Management District. The observation tower at Handy Brake Refuge had 
approximately 3,200 visitors during 2002.
    A few potential issues to be reviewed during the planning process 
include water manipulation, beaver control throughout the district, and 
control of undesirable plant species, such as willow, cocklebur, and 
Sesbania. Control methods in the past included mechanical means, water 
level manipulation, and spraying.
    The Service will conduct a comprehensive conservation planning 
process that will provide opportunity for State and local governments, 
agencies, organizations, and the public to participate in issue scoping 
and public comment. Comments received by the planning team will be used 
as part of the planning process.

    Authority:  This notice is published under the authority of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, Public Law 

    Dated: September 7, 2005.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 05-20318 Filed 10-7-05; 8:45 am]