[Federal Register: July 18, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 137)]
[Page 39440-39441]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District, Nebraska

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service, We) announces 
that the draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental 
Assessment (EA) for the Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District 
(WMD, District) is available. This draft CCP/EA describes how the 
Service intends to manage this District for the next 15 years. We 
request public comment.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
on the draft CCP/EA by August 17, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Please provide written comments to Bernardo Garza, Planning 
Team Leader, Division of Refuge Planning, Branch of Comprehensive 
Conservation Planning, Mountain-Prairie Region, P.O. Box 25486, Denver 
Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225-0486; via facsimile at 303-236-
4792; or electronically to bernardo_garza@fws.gov. A copy of the CCP/
EA may be obtained by writing to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Division of Refuge Planning, 134 Union Boulevard, Suite 300, Lakewood, 
Colorado 80228; or by download from http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/planning

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bernardo Garza, 303-236-4377 or John 
Esperance, 303-236-4369.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Rainwater Basin WMD was established in 1963 
when the Service began acquiring critical migratory waterfowl habitat 
in south-central and southeast Nebraska with Duck Stamp dollars. This 
WMD was established for the following purposes: (1) ``* * * To assure 
the long-term viability of the breeding waterfowl population and 
production through the acquisition and management of Waterfowl 
Production Areas, while considering the needs of other migratory birds, 
threatened and endangered species and other wildlife.'' (purpose 
statement developed for all WMDs in Region 6 in June 2004); (2) ``* * * 
to acquire * * * small wetland and pothole areas * * * to be designated 
as `Waterfowl Production Areas' * * * as an inviolate sanctuary or for 
any other management purpose, for migratory birds * * * and to restore 
and develop adequate wildlife habitat'' under the Migratory Bird 
Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act [16 U.S.C. 715d (2), 715i(a) & 718 
(c)]; (3) ``for conservation purposes'' under the Consolidated Farm and 
Rural Development Act [7 U.S.C. 2002(a)]; (4) ``promote * * * the 
conservation of the wetlands of the Nation in order to maintain the 
public benefits they provide and to help fulfill international 
obligations in various migratory bird treaties and conventions with 
Canada, Mexico, Japan, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and 
with various countries in the Western Hemisphere'' under the Emergency 
Wetlands Resources Act [16 U.S.C. 3901(b)]; and (5) ``to protect 
waterfowl production areas'' under Public Land Orders 6979 [May 25, 
1993], and 7206 [June 24, 1996].
    Today, the District manages approximately 23,500 acres in 61 
individual tracts of land within the geographic area called the 
Rainwater Basin. This District encompasses a complex of wetlands 
scattered throughout a 17-county area. Current public use opportunities 
at this WMD include hunting, wildlife observation and photography.
    This draft CCP/EA identifies and evaluates two alternatives for 
managing the District for the next 15 years. Alternative A, the No 
Action alternative, reflects the current management of the District. It 
provides the baseline against which to compare the other alternative. 
District habitats would continue to be managed on an opportunistic 
schedule that may maintain, or most likely would result in further 
decline in, the diversity of vegetation and water quality and quantity 
in the wetlands. District staff would continue to perform only limited 
research and would monitor only long-term vegetation change. 
Partnerships and priority public uses such as fishing, hunting, 
wildlife observation and wildlife photography would continue at present 
levels. Other priority public uses such as environmental education and 
interpretation would only be available on an informal basis. Outreach 
efforts would not be attainable due to the staff's inability to support 
them. The District would continue to support and work cooperatively to 
further the goals of the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture.
    Alternative B is the Service's proposed action and basis for the 
draft CCP. Under this alternative the staff would continue to pursue 
the same goals and activities as in Alternative A but the emphasis 
would be to address all aspects in a holistic manner. The WMD would 
work with formal and informal partnerships, including landowners, to 
improve waterfowl production areas at a landscape level. Actions would 
strive to build a ``neighborly interaction'' between privately-owned, 
State and WMD lands within each watershed. The WMD would work with 
partners to complete the engineering and funding and would continue to 
support and work cooperatively to further the goals of the Rainwater 
Basin Joint Venture.
    The proposed action (Alternative B) was selected because it best 
meets the purposes and goals of the District, as well as the mission 
and goals of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The proposed action 
will also benefit federally listed species, shore birds, migrating and 
nesting waterfowl, neotropical migrants and resident wildlife. 
Environmental education and partnerships will result in improved 
wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities. Cultural and historical 
resources as well as federally listed species will be protected.
    Opportunity for public input will be provided at public meetings to 
be scheduled soon. The specific date and time for the public meeting is 
yet to be determined, but will be announced via local media and a 
planning update. All information provided voluntarily by mail, by 
phone, or at public meetings (e.g., names, addresses, letters of 
comment, input recorded during meetings) becomes part of the official 
public record. If requested under the Freedom of Information Act by a 
private citizen or organization, the Service may provide copies of such 
information. The environmental review of this project will be conducted 
in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); NEPA 
Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508); other appropriate Federal laws 
and regulations; Executive Order 12996; the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Improvement Act of 1997; and Service policies and procedures for 
compliance with those laws and regulations.

[[Page 39441]]

    Dated: March 30, 2007.
Elliott Sutta,
Acting Regional Director, Region 6, Denver, Colorado.

    Editorial Note: This document was received at the Office of the 
Federal Register on July 13, 2007.
 [FR Doc. E7-13887 Filed 7-17-07; 8:45 am]