[Federal Register: May 26, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 102)]
[Page 30442-30443]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Record of Decision for the Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan 
and Environmental Impact Statement for Driftless Area National Wildlife 
Refuge in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of record of decision.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the decision and 
availability of the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS) for Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in 
accordance with 40 CFR 1506.6(b). A thorough analysis of the 
environmental, social, and economic considerations was completed and 
included in the Final CCP/EIS. The Final CCP/EIS was released to the 
public and a Notice of Availability was published in the Federal 
Register, 71 FR 5874, February 3, 2006. The ROD documents the selection 
of Alternative C, the Preferred Alternative in the Final CCP/EIS. The 
ROD was signed by the Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Midwest Region, on April 18, 2006.

ADDRESSES: The ROD and Final CCP/EIS may be viewed at Driftless Area 
National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters. You may obtain a copy of the ROD 
at the planning Web site at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/planning/DriftlessArea
 or by writing to the following address: U.S. Fish and 

Wildlife Service, Division of Conservation Planning, Bishop Henry 
Whipple Federal Building, 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, Minnesota 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cathy Henry at (563) 873-3423.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The CCP/EIS for the Driftless Area National 
Wildlife Refuge will provide management guidance for conservation of 
Refuge resources and public use activities during the next 15 years. 
Three alternatives and their consequences were described in detail in 
the Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statement. Under all 
alternatives recovery plans for the Iowa Pleistocene snail and the 
Northern monkshood would be updated, cultural resources would be 
protected, and the Refuge's Fire Management Plan would guide prescribed 
fire and wildfire suppression.
    Alternative A--No Action. Present management practices would 
continue under this Alternative. The No Action alternative is a status 
quo alternative where current conditions and trends continue. The 
alternative served as the baseline to compare and contrast with the 
other alternatives.
    Acquisition efforts would not occur under this alternative because 
there would be no approved expanded acquisition boundary.
    Alternative B--Habitat Protection Emphasis. Under this alternative 
the primary focus of Refuge activities would be on the permanent 
protection of endangered species habitat through land acquisition and 
minimal physical disturbance of endangered species habitat. The 
expanded acquisition area

[[Page 30443]]

for the Refuge would include a total of 6,000 acres in 22 counties in 
four states as described in a Land Protection Plan (Appendix J of the 
Final EIS). The 3,400 acres specified in this alternative is the 
estimated acreage that would be protected within the 15-year life of 
the CCP given anticipated levels of willing sellers, funding, and 
Refuge personnel.
    Alternative C--Habitat Protection, Increased Management, and 
Integrated Wildlife-dependent Recreation (Preferred Alternative). Under 
this alternative the focus would be on the permanent protection of 
endangered species habitat and additional algific slopes through land 
acquisition and active management of endangered species habitat. New 
information and threats increase the need for active management. Fewer 
acres acquired in this alternative would allow limited Refuge resources 
to address all impacts to the habitat. The total expanded acquisition 
area for the Refuge would include 6,000 acres in 22 counties in four 
states as described in a Land Protection Plan (Appendix J of the Final 
EIS). The 2,275 acres specified in this alternative is a realistic 
estimate of the acreage that would be protected within the 15-year life 
of the CCP given anticipated levels of willing sellers, funding, and 
the need to accomplish other Refuge objectives in this alternative. The 
Service has selected Alternative C, the Preferred Alternative, for the 
Refuge. Alternative C addresses the key issues identified during the 
planning process and will best achieve the purposes and goals of the 
Refuge as well as the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System. 
This decision includes adoption of Comprehensive Conservation Plan 
Chapters (Appendix A), and the Land Protection Plan (Appendix J of the 
Final CCP/EIS). Implementation of the CCP will occur over the next 15 
years and will depend on future staffing levels, funding, and willing 
    The Service's Basis for the Decision: Alternative C is the most 
environmentally preferable alternative. Alternative C is likely to lead 
to the delisting of the Iowa Pleistocene snail and significant progress 
in the recovery of Northern monkshood and Leedy's roseroot, as well as 
beneficial effects for other trust species. Algific talus slopes are 
more likely to benefit under the management proposed in Alternative C 
than the other alternatives. Alternative C is also expected to lead to 
more public support and more public opportunities than the other 
alternatives. Alternative A was not selected because it would not lead 
to reaching recovery goals or delisting of species. Alternative B was 
not selected because minimal management would likely lead to negative 
effects on algific talus slopes and delisting of species might not 
occur. The rationale for choosing the selected alternative as the best 
alternative for the CCP/EIS is based on the impact of this alternative 
on the issues and concerns that surfaced during the planning process. 
The environmental impacts of the three alternatives were analyzed as to 
how they would impact: (1) Habitat management; (2) visitor services; 
(3) refuge expansion; and (4) species assessments. Because all 
practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm have been 
incorporated into the preferred alternative, no mitigation measures 
have been identified.

    Dated: May 1, 2006.
Charles M. Wooley,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fort 
Snelling, Minnesota.
 [FR Doc. E6-8124 Filed 5-25-06; 8:45 am]