[Federal Register: December 23, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 246)]
[Page 76323-76325]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of the Draft Comprehensive Conservation 
Plan and Environmental Assessment for Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge, 
Maxwell, NM

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 and Environmental Assessment 
(Draft CCP/EA) for the Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge is available 
for review and comment. This Draft CCP/EA was 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-668ee et seq), and the National Environmental Policy Act 
of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370d). It describes how the Service intends to 
manage the refuge over the next 15 years. Compatibility determinations 
for several existing uses (farming, sport fishing, wildlife 
observation, photography,

[[Page 76324]]

environmental education and interpretation) were re-evaluated, and are 
included in the draft plan. In addition, draft compatibility 
determinations for two new proposed uses (grazing and hunting) are also 
available for review and comment in the Draft CCP/EA.

DATES: Written comments must be received at the address below by 
February 21, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Send comments to Carol Torrez, Biologist/Natural Resource 
Planner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, 
New Mexico, 87103-1306, Telephone: (505) 248-6821, Fax: (505) 248-6874. 
Comments may also be submitted via electronic mail to: 

    The draft CCP/EA is available on compact diskette or hard copy, and 
may be obtained by writing, telephoning, faxing, or e-mailing Carol 
Torrez at the above listed address. The draft CCP/EA will also be 
available for viewing and downloading online at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/plan/index.html

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carol Torrez, Biologist/Natural 
Resource Planner, 505-248-6821 or Patty Hoban, Refuge Manager, 505-375-

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 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 
the Service to develop a CCP for each National Wildlife Refuge. The 
purpose in developing a CCP 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, the CCP 
identifies 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 the CCP 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.


    The Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge was established on August 24, 
1965 by the authority of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 
712d) ``* * * for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or any other 
management purpose, for migratory birds.'' Located in northeast New 
Mexico, the 3,699 acre Refuge is comprised of 2,300 acres of grassland, 
907 acres of lakes (which are leased from Vermejo Conservancy 
District), 50 acres of wetlands, 39 acres of woodlots, 440 acres of 
croplands, several miles of irrigation canals, and approximately 10 
acres of administrative lands. Most of the area was utilized for 
grazing and farming prior to acquisition. Current management efforts 
focus on farming to provide food for migrating and wintering waterfowl, 
maintaining biological diversity, preserving native grasslands and 
managing public use.
    The Draft CCP/EA addresses a range of topics including habitat and 
wildlife management, public use opportunities, invasive species 
control, and administration and staffing for the refuge. Three 
alternatives for managing the refuge are proposed and evaluated in the 
EA. Each alternative describes a combination of habitat and public use 
management actions designed to achieve the refuge purposes, goals, and 
vision. The Service prefers Alternative B because it best achieves 
refuge purposes, vision, and goals; contributes to the Refuge System 
mission; addresses relevant issues and mandates; and is consistent with 
the principles of sound fish and wildlife management. The alternatives 
are briefly described below.
    Alternative A is `no action' or continuance of current management. 
Under this alternative, management efforts would continue to focus on 
farming, invasive species control, and preservation of native 
grasslands. The public use program would remain at current levels, with 
fishing and wildlife observation being the main focus. Environmental 
education and interpretation would be accommodated on a case-by-case 
basis. No new recreational/hunting opportunities or facilities would be 
developed on the refuge. Refuge management programs would continue to 
be developed and implemented with little baseline biological 
    Alternative B is the proposed action. This alternative would 
implement a variety of habitat management techniques (prescribed 
burning, experimental grazing, and mechanical and chemical invasive 
species control methods) to encourage ecological integrity, promote 
native prairie restoration, control invasive plant species, and 
provide/enhance habitat for grassland birds and other resident 
wildlife. The farming program would continue to be emphasized. 
Inventory, monitoring, and research would increase. The public use 
program would increase and/or enhance educational and outreach 
activities, recreational opportunities (including continued fishing, 
wildlife observation, photography and consideration of hunting 
opportunities), community involvement, and facilities.
    Alternative C proposes to manage Maxwell NWR as part of a complex 
with Las Vegas NWR and turn all farming efforts over to cooperative 
farmers. By transferring all farming activities to cooperative farmers 
and combining both refuge staffs, more time would potentially be made 
available for native grassland restoration, invasive species control, 
and maintenance of natural diversity. The prescribed fire program and 
comprehensive habitat monitoring and evaluation would be emphasized. 
The public use program would be similar to Alternative B.
    None of the alternatives propose any acquisition or refuge boundary 

Public Involvement

    The draft CCP/EA is available for public review and comment for a 
period of 60 days. Copies of the document can be obtained as indicated 
in the ADDRESSES section. In addition, documents will be available for 
public inspection during normal business hours (8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) at 
the Maxwell NWR Headquarters Office, 2 miles northwest of the town of 
Maxwell, New Mexico off I-25, and at the following libraries:

Fred Macaron Library, 600 Colbert Avenue, Springer, NM
Cimmaron Public Library, 356D E. 9th St., Cimmaron, NM
City of Raton Library, 244 Cook Avenue, Raton, NM

    An open house/public meeting will be held at the Maxwell NWR 
Headquarters to receive comments on the Draft CCP/EA during the open 
comment period on January 25, 2006 from 11 a.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.
    Public comments are requested, considered, and incorporated 
throughout the planning process. After the review and comment period 
ends for this draft CCP/EA, comments will be analyzed by the Service 
and addressed in the Final CCP. All comments

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received from individuals, including names and addresses, 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)], and other Service and Departmental policies and procedures.

    Dated: October 11, 2005.
Geoffrey L. Haskett,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, 
New Mexico.
[FR Doc. E5-7773 Filed 12-22-05; 8:45 am]