[Federal Register: August 17, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 159)]
[Page 47510-47511]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Great Dismal Swamp and Nansemond National Wildlife Refuges: Final 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Finding of No Significant Impact

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces that 
the final Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) is available for Great 
Dismal Swamp and Nansemond National Wildlife Refuges (NWR). Prepared in 
conformance with the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act 
of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife System Improvement Act of 
1997, and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the plan 
describes how the Service intends to manage the refuges over the next 
15 years. A Finding of No Significant Impact was approved by the 
Regional Director.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the CCP is available on compact diskette or in 
hard copy, and may be obtained by writing Deloras Freeman, Great Dismal 
Swamp NWR, 3100 Desert Road, Suffolk, Virginia 23434, or by e-mail at 
deloras_freeman@fws.gov. This document may also be accessed at the Web 

address http://library.fws.gov/ccps.htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Deloras Freeman, Refuge Planner at the 
above address, by phone at 757-986-3705, or by e-mail at 

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 et seq.), requires the 
Service to develop a CCP for each refuge within the system. The purpose 
of 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 science, conservation, legal mandates, 
and Service policies. In addition to outlining broad management 
direction on conserving wildlife and habitats, a CCP identifies 
wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities available to the public, 
including opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation. The CCP 
will be reviewed and updated at least every 15 years in accordance with 
the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1969, as 
amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, 
and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4347, 
as amended).
    Established in 1974, Great Dismal Swamp NWR encompasses 111,203 
acres, the largest intact remnant of a vast habitat that once covered 
more than 1 million acres of southeastern Virginia and northeastern 
North Carolina. Nansemond NWR, established December 12, 1973, is an 
unstaffed satellite refuge encompassing 423 acres.
    Our Final CCP includes management direction for each of the 
refuges, and details habitat management and public use programs based 
on the vision for the refuge at the time of its establishment in 1974. 
We have included the restoration of 8,000 acres of Atlantic white cedar 
habitat, the restoration of 10,000 acres of red-cockaded woodpecker 
habitat, and the restoration of a remnant marsh to its original 250 
acres from its present 30 acres. We would establish a neotropical 
migratory bird focus area near Jericho Lane, in which we would focus 
habitat management and modeling, population surveys, and education and 
interpretation related to neotropical migratory bird populations. We 
will implement a limited bear hunt. This hunt will occur on a total of 
2 days during November and December, with a total maximum of 100 
permits issued. We anticipate a harvest of 11 bears with a harvest 
limit target of 20 bears. If 10 or more bears are taken the first day, 
various parameters will be evaluated and the second hunt day may be 
cancelled. As with the deer hunt, dogs will not be allowed as a means 
to hunt bears. The bear hunt is currently authorized in the Code of 
Federal Regulations (50 CFR Part 32), but has never been implemented.
    We have also targeted building projects, such as the development of 
an environmental education site at Jericho Ditch in Suffolk, Virginia. 
We will also develop an exhibit to be situated at the downtown visitor 
center that is run by the City of Suffolk. Additionally, we propose the 
conversion of the current administrative building for a concession 
operation that will rent kayaks and outdoor equipment and run tours of 
the swamp, the construction of a new visitor center and headquarters 
between the old and new Route 17 in Chesapeake, Virginia, and the 
construction of new trails, observation and photography platforms, or 
towers. The CCP proposes to enhance environmental education and 
outreach, and to establish hunter safety and youth hunting programs.
     The Service solicited comments on the draft CCP/EA for 
Great Dismal Swamp and Nansemond NWRs from March 13 to April 24, 2006 
(March 13, 2006, 71 FR 12709). We developed a list of substantive 
comments that required responses. Editorial suggestions and notes of 
concurrence with or opposition to certain proposals were noted and 
included in the decision making process, but did not receive formal 
responses. The Final CCP includes responses to all substantive 
    Based upon comments that we received, we have chosen management 
alternative B, with the following modifications:
     Land Protection: A number of comments expressed support 
for protection of the Great Dismal Swamp ecosystem, including 
surrounding lands. Additionally, a comment voiced concern that the 
wording of Goal 3 did not adequately reflect the refuge purpose as 
stated in the Dismal Swamp Act. The refuge addressed these comments 
with the following actions:
    (1) Addition of the following strategy to Goal 3: ``Develop sound 
working relationships with adjoining landowners, nearby neighboring 
landowners, and other key landowners within the ecosystem to protect 
the integrity of the refuge boundary and further the protection of the 
ecosystem.'' The refuge will take advantage of partnership 
opportunities around the refuge.
    (2) Goal 3 was broadened to better reflect the intent of the 
enabling legislation and reworded as: ``Provide protection and 
restoration of those areas within Great Dismal Swamp ecosystem that are 
remnants of the Great Dismal Swamp and/or are restorable to Great 
Dismal Swamp habitat while providing

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support to the protection and restoration of all its components and 
adjacent habitats that directly affect the vitality and viability of 
the ecosystem.''
     Wildlife Observation: A suggestion was made to develop a 
through-swamp canoe/kayak trail. This suggestion was adopted. A 
through-swamp canoe/kayak trail will be developed in Washington Ditch 
from the existing parking area to Lake Drummond and then via the Feeder 
Ditch to the Dismal Swamp Canal, and a partnership will be sought to 
oversee maintenance of the trail.
     Road Improvements: A number of comments about the amount 
of road paving that was proposed were received. The refuge decided to 
reduce the amount of paving. The proposed auto tour route and the 
access to Lake Drummond will remain as gravel roads. Paving will only 
occur on highest use access roads at Washington Ditch and Jericho 

    Dated: July 26, 2006.
Michael G. Thabault,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hadley, 
 [FR Doc. E6-13553 Filed 8-16-06; 8:45 am]