[Federal Register: November 21, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 223)]
[Page 70089-70090]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan 
and Environmental Assessment for Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, 
Jet, OK

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

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces that a 
Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental 
Assessment (EA) for the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is 
available for review and comment. This CCP/EA, prepared pursuant to the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as amended 
by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd et seq.), and the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370d), describes how the Service intends to 
manage this refuge over the next 15 years.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before January 20, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Send comments to Chris Perez, Biologist/Natural Resource 
Planner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Route 2, Box 202A, Alamo, 
Texas 78516, Telephone: 956-784-7553, Fax: 956-782-0641. Comments may 
also be sent via electronic mail to: Chris_Perez@fws.gov.
    The draft CCP/EA is available on compact disk or hard copy, and may 
be obtained by writing, telephoning, faxing, or e-mailing Chris Perez 
at the above-listed address. In addition, the CCP/EA is available on 
the Internet at: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/Plan/index.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Chris Perez, Biologist/Natural 
Resource Planner, 956-784-7553 or Jon M. Brock, Refuge Manager, 580-

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Public Involvement: The draft CCP/EA is 
available for public review and comment for a period of 60 days from 
the date of publication. Copies of the

[[Page 70090]]

document can be obtained as indicated in the ADDRESSES section. In 
addition, documents will be available for public inspection between the 
hours of 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Friday at the Salt Plains NWR 
Headquarters Office, 35 miles northwest of Enid, Oklahoma, off State 
Highway 38, and at the following libraries: Cherokee Public Library, 
602 S. Grand Ave., Cherokee, OK 73728.
    An open house to receive comments on the Draft CCP/EA will be held 
at the Salt Plains NWR Headquarters Office during the open comment 
period on January 12, 2006 from 2 p.m.-7 p.m. Special mailings, 
newspaper articles, and/or other media announcements will be used to 
inform the public of the date and time of the meeting.
    All comments received from individuals become part of the official 
public record. Requests for such comments will be handled in accordance 
with the Freedom of Information Act and the Council on Environmental 
Quality's NEPA regulations [40 CFR 1506.6 (f)].
    Background: The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act 
of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement 
Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee et seq.), requires a CCP. The 
purpose in developing CCPs 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 science, conservation, legal mandates, 
and Service policies. In addition to outlining broad management 
direction on conserving wildlife and their habitats, the CCPs identify 
wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities available to the public, 
including opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation. We will 
review and update these CCPs at least every 15 years in accordance with 
the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as 
amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, 
and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-
    Salt Plains NWR was established ``as a refuge and breeding grounds 
for birds,'' by Executive Order No. 5314 on March 26, 1930. The 
authority of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 712d) 
establishes that each refuge is: ``* * * for use as an inviolate 
sanctuary, or any other management purpose, for migratory birds.'' The 
Refuge Recreation Act (16 U.S.C. 460-1) states that each refuge is 
``suitable for incidental fish and wildlife-oriented recreational 
development, the protection of natural resources, and the conservation 
of endangered or threatened species.'' Additionally, Salt Plains NWR 
has been designated as critical habitat for the whooping crane (43 FR 
20938, May 15, 1978).
    Salt Plains NWR is located on the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River 
at the Great Salt Plains Lake in north-central Oklahoma. The confluence 
of several streams and rivers and the salt-encrusted plains produces a 
variety of unique wildlife habitats found nowhere else for hundreds of 
miles around. The 32,030-acre refuge is roughly equal parts of upland, 
open water, and salt flats, making it one of the most important 
migratory bird stopover, wintering, and nesting habitats in the Central 
Great Plains region. Three federally listed species use the refuge on a 
seasonal basis, and the refuge is also designated critical habitat for 
endangered whooping cranes. Federally threatened bald eagles winter on 
the refuge and endangered least terns nest in large numbers every year 
on the salt flats. Management efforts focus on protecting, enhancing, 
and restoring refuge habitats and water management for the benefit of 
important fish and wildlife resources.
    The Draft CCP/EA addresses a range of topics, including habitat and 
wildlife management, water management, invasive species control, public 
use opportunities, and administration and staffing for the refuge. 
Important refuge issues and how they are addressed in the plan 
alternatives are summarized below. Alternative A is the current 
management, or what is currently offered, at the refuge. Alternative B 
is the proposed action. Under Alternative C, a greater emphasis on 
public uses such as all types of hunting, hiking, and necessary 
facilities, roads, and trails is proposed.
    Habitat management activities: Alternative A: Habitat management 
such as prescribed fire, farming, moist soil management, invasive 
species control, or revegetation and maintenance projects would proceed 
to the extent that current base funding and staffing allows. 
Alternative B: The actions proposed in this alternative emphasize 
updated and integrated land management to progressively restore, 
maintain, and enhance native habitats for migratory birds, waterfowl, 
federally listed species, and resident wildlife. Alternative C: Habitat 
management would essentially be the same as Alternative A so that the 
refuge could focus more on public use opportunities.
    Improvements to public use opportunities: Alternative A: The public 
use program would remain at current levels and no new facilities would 
be developed on the refuge. Alternative B: The public use program would 
increase and/or enhance educational and outreach activities, 
recreational opportunities (including expansion of waterfowl hunting 
areas), community involvement, and improvement of facilities and 
interpretive trails. Alternative C: The public use program would 
emphasize opening the refuge to all types of hunting and increase 
roads, trails, and facilities to meet the emphasis on all compatible 
public uses.
    Refuge Land and Boundary Protection: Alternative A: There would be 
no acquisition and no exploration of possible refuge boundary 
expansion. Alternative B: Land protection would be accomplished through 
partnerships with adjacent owners. Any refuge boundary (none are 
currently proposed) expansion would only occur from willing sellers as 
a means to improve or protect important habitats that support 
accomplishment of species, habitat, and ecosystem goals and/or lands 
with high flood potential. Alternative C: Same as Alternative A.

    Dated: August 18, 2005.
Larry G. Bell,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, 
New Mexico.
[FR Doc. 05-22969 Filed 11-18-05; 8:45 am]