[Federal Register: March 13, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 48)]
[Page 12709-12710]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental 
Assessment for the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and the 
Nansemond National Wildlife Refuge

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

ACTION: Notice of Availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces that 
the draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental 
Assessment (EA) for the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge 
(NWR) is available for review. The CCP/EA includes Nansemond NWR, an 
unstaffed refuge managed by the Great Dismal Swamp NWR. The Service 
prepared this CCP/EA in compliance with the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969, and 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.).
    This notice also advises the public that the Service is withdrawing 
a previous notice, published in 2002, stating that an Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS) would be developed for the refuge complex. After 
completing the environmental analysis, we determined that an EIS is not 

DATES: The draft CCP/EA will be available for public review and comment 
for a 30-day period starting with the publication of this notice.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the draft CCP/EA on compact diskette or in print 
may be obtained by writing or visiting Great Dismal Swamp NWR, 3100 
Desert Road, Suffolk, Virginia 23434, or you may download an electronic 
copy from the http://library.fws.gov/ccps.htm Web site. We plan to host 

three public meetings in the Cities of Suffolk and Chesapeake, 
Virginia, and in Camden and Gates Counties in North Carolina. We will 
announce the details at least 2 weeks in advance in local papers and 
post them at the refuge.
    Comments should be submitted to Deloras Freeman, Great Dismal Swamp 
NWR, 3100 Desert Road, Suffolk, Virginia 23434, by fax at 757-986-2353, 
or email at deloras_freeman@fws.gov. Comments via email should include 
the comments in the body of the email, since email security programs 
could delete attached files.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Deloras Freeman, Great Dismal Swamp 
NWR at 787-986-3706 or Bill Perry, Refuge Planner, Northeast Regional 
Office at 413-253-8371.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 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 CCP 
for each refuge. The purpose of developing a CCP describes the desired 
future conditions of the refuge and provides refuge managers with a 15-
year strategy for achieving refuge purposes and contributing to the 
mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System, in conformance with the 
sound principles of fish and wildlife science, natural resources 
conservation, legal mandates, and Service policies. In addition to 
outlining broad management direction on conserving wildlife and 
habitats, CCPs identify wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities 
available to the public, including opportunities for hunting, fishing, 
wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and 
interpretation. The Service will review and update each CCP at least 
once every 15 years, in accordance with the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Improvement Act of 1997 and the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969.
    Established in 1974, Great Dismal Swamp NWR encompasses 111,201 
acres, the largest intact remnant of a vast habitat that once covered 
more than one million acres of southeastern Virginia and northeastern 
North Carolina. The Nansemond NWR, established December 12, 1973, is an 
unstaffed satellite refuge encompassing 423 acres.
    The draft CCP/EA analyzes three alternatives for managing the 
refuge over the next 15 years. Alternative A (the ``No Action'' 
Alternative) would continue our present management and provides a 
baseline for comparing and

[[Page 12710]]

contrasting other alternatives. It continues to focus on restoring 
hydrology and habitat, maintaining roads, acquiring 4,000 acres of land 
inside the refuge boundary as it becomes available from willing 
sellers, restoring 1,000 acres of Atlantic white cedar, and enhancing 
2,000 acres of pocosin/pine habitat for reintroduction of red-cockaded 
woodpeckers. It continues to provide current levels of environmental 
education and interpretation, boating and fishing on Lake Drummond, and 
annual deer hunting.
    Alternative B (the Service-preferred alternative) directs the 
refuge toward an optimal level of habitat management and public use 
based on the vision for the refuge at the time of its establishment in 
1974. Alternative B proposes 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. As a part of our preferred alternative, we have proposed 
to implement a limited bear hunt. This hunt would occur on a total of 2 
days during November and December, with a total maximum of 100 permits 
issued. We anticipate a harvest of approximately 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 
    Our preferred alternative also proposes the following building 
projects: The development of an environmental education site at Jericho 
Ditch in Suffolk, Virginia. We will also develop an exhibit to be sited 
at the downtown visitor center that is run by the City of Suffolk. 
Additionally, we propose the conversion of the current administrative 
building for concessions, and 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, establish hunter safety and youth 
hunting programs, and provide interpretative canoe or kayak tours 
through a concessionaire.
    Alternative C (limited habitat management) reduces our emphasis on 
habitat management compared to current refuge operations, but 
significantly expands visitor services and public use. It also 
emphasizes monitoring and researching opportunities.
    All three alternatives share some priorities. They manage invasive 
or exotic species and pine/pocosin habitats. They manage hydrology to 
slow the rate of surface drainage from the refuge, maintain normal 
flooding patterns, manage stands of Atlantic white cedar, and conserve 
water for suppressing fires. Finally, they continue to provide 
opportunities for compatible public use such as hunting, fishing, 
environmental education and interpretation, wildlife observation and 
photography, and off-refuge outreach and partnerships.
    A Wilderness Review was also conducted for Great Dismal Swamp NWR 
as part of this planning process. No areas were recommended for 
designation because none of the wilderness inventory areas met 
wilderness criteria.

    Dated: February 24, 2006.
Marvin E. Moriarty,
Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. E6-3118 Filed 3-10-06; 8:45 am]