[Federal Register: August 16, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 158)]
[Page 46095-46097]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Intent To Prepare a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and 
Environmental Assessment (EA) for Little Sandy National Wildlife 
Refuge, Located in Wood County, TX

AGENCY: Department of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Southwest Region, intends to gather information necessary to 
prepare a CCP and EA for Little Sandy National Wildlife Refuge, 
pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act and its implementing 
regulations. The Service is furnishing this notice in compliance with 
the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, to 
achieve the following:
    (1) Advise other agencies and the public of our intentions,
    (2) Obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to 
include in the environmental document.

DATES: Special mailings, newspaper articles, postings, and media 
announcements will inform people of

[[Page 46096]]

opportunities for written input throughout the CCP planning process. 
Refuge fact sheets will be made available at local libraries in the 
surrounding communities. This notice of intent/public scoping process 
will continue until January 1, 2007. Written comments submitted by mail 
or e-mail should be postmarked by that date to ensure consideration. 
Comments mailed after that date will be considered to the extent 
practical. Inquire at the following address for future dates of 
planning activities and due dates for comments.

ADDRESSES: Address comments and requests for more information to: Mark 
Williams, Refuge Manager, Little Sandy National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. 
Box 230, Karnack, Texas 75661; phone: 903-679-9144, fax: 903-679-9148. 
Information concerning this Refuge may also be found at the following 
Web site: http://southwest.fws.gov. Comments submitted via e-mail should be addressed to Tom Baca at Tom--Baca@fws.gov. or Mark Williams 

at Mark_Williams@fws.gov. Our practice is to make comments, including 
names and addresses of respondents, available for public review during 
regular business hours. Individual respondents may request that we 
withhold their home address from the rulemaking record, which we will 
honor to the extent allowable by law.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Baca, Chief, Division of Planning, 
P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87103-1306; phone: 505-248-6631; 
fax: 505-248-6874; e-mail Tom_Baca@fws.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act of 1997 requires that all lands within the National 
Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) are to be managed in accordance with an 
approved CCP. The CCP guides management decisions and identifies refuge 
goals, long-range objectives, and strategies for achieving refuge 
purposes. Each refuge in the NWRS has specific purposes for which it 
was established. Those purposes are used to develop and prioritize 
management goals and objectives within the NWRS mission and to guide 
which public uses will occur on a given refuge.
    The planning process will consider many elements including wildlife 
and habitat management, habitat protection and acquisition, wilderness 
preservation, public recreational activities, and cultural resource 
protection. Public input into the planning process is essential. The 
planning process is a way for the Service and the public to evaluate 
refuge management goals and objectives for the best possible 
conservation efforts of this important wildlife habitat. Concurrently, 
this process is also providing for wildlife-dependent recreation 
opportunities that are compatible with each refuge's establishing 
purposes and the mission of the NWRS.
    The Little Sandy National Wildlife Refuge is a 3,802 acre, 
permanent, ``non development'' easement located along the Sabine River 
in East Texas. The special interest in land was received by the United 
States for management as a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System 
in December 1986. The interest in land was donated by the Little Sandy 
Hunting and Fishing Club in Wood County, Texas. An Environmental 
Assessment was completed in December 1986 describing the affected 
environment and the purposes of establishment of the Little Sandy 
National Wildlife Refuge. By acceptance of the easement donation on 
behalf of the United States, the Service was acting under the authority 
of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929 to protect and preserve 
habitat for waterfowl giving the Refuge its primary purposes. No 
funding for acquisition was required. The site would not be actively 
managed by the Service, and the use of the site as a hunting club by 
the Little Sandy Hunting and Fishing Club would be maintained into 
perpetuity. However, the ``non development'' easement prohibits the 
conversion of these lands to other land practices, such as timber 
harvest or alteration of wetlands notwithstanding specific 
authorization by Congress. Although active habitat manipulation (i.e., 
restoration, maintenance, or enhancement of habitat) is limited, the 
Service is interested in engaging with the Little Sandy Hunt Club and 
other conservation partners in the formation of goals, objectives, and 
strategies leading to a better understanding of the full range of 
habitat and wildlife resources present on the Refuge. The Service is 
cognizant of its responsibility to request authorization from the 
Little Sandy Hunt Club prior to any engagement of on site activities.
    The Refuge contains old growth bottomland hardwood habitat and 
associated wetlands that support wintering mallards (Anas 
platyrhynchos) and wintering and breeding wood ducks (Aix sponsa). The 
area also supports a large number of other wildlife and plant species, 
including the threatened American alligator (Alligator 
mississippiensis) and the once endangered bald eagle (Haliaeetus 
    The CCP will provide other agencies and the public with a clear 
understanding of the desired conditions for the Refuge and how the 
Service will implement management strategies for the conservation and 
development of these natural resources.
    The Service, through this notice of intent, formally begins the 
comprehensive conservation planning process for Little Sandy National 
Wildlife Refuge. The Service requests input on any and all issues 
concerning the Service's responsibilities to monitor and understand the 
full spectrum of habitat and wildlife resources present on the Refuge. 
Because the Refuge is an easement overlay upon private hunt club lands, 
the comprehensive plan to be developed will likely carry only a minimum 
of objectives and strategies pertaining to resource educational and 
interpretive opportunities that could be considered in partnership with 
the Little Sandy Hunt Club and/or other interested partners. The CCP is 
also likely to outline any issues regarding the protection of 
threatened and/or endangered species, migratory birds, native species, 
and their habitats.
    Comments received will be used as part of the planning process. 
Individual comments will not be referenced in our reports or directly 
responded to. The Service will continue to solicit information from the 
public and other agencies via open houses, meetings, and written 
comments. Special mailings, newspaper releases, and announcements will 
continue to inform people of the time and place of opportunities for 
further input to the CCP.
    Review of this project will be conducted in accordance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1968, as amended (42 U.S.C 4321 et 
seq.), NEPA Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508) found at http://www.thecre.com/fedlaw/default.htm
, other appropriate Federal laws, and 

Service policies and procedures for compliance with those regulations.
    The Service will prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) in 
accordance with procedures for implementing NEPA found in the 
Department of the Interior Manual (DM Part 516, Chap. 6). The decision 
to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement instead of an EA would be 
contingent upon the complexity of issues following the scoping phase of 
the CCP process.
    We estimate that the draft environmental documents will be 
available in fall 2007 for public review and comment.

[[Page 46097]]

    Authority: This notice is published under the authority of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, Public Law 

    Dated: November 7, 2006.
Christopher T. Jones,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, 
New Mexico.

    Editorial Note: This document was received at the Office of the 
Federal Register on August 13, 2007.
[FR Doc. E7-16128 Filed 8-15-07; 8:45 am]