[Federal Register: February 2, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 22)]
[Page 5080-5081]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Souris River Basin National Wildlife Refuges, North Dakota

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces that 
the draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental 
Assessment (EA) for the Souris River Basin National Wildlife Refuges 
(Refuges) is available. This draft CCP/EA describes how the Service 
intends to manage these Refuges for the next 15 years. We request 
public comment.

DATES: We must receive written comments on the draft CCP/EA by March 
19, 2007. Submit comments by one of the methods under ADDRESSES.

ADDRESSES: Please provide written comments to Toni Griffin, 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, or electronically to 
toni_griffin@fws.gov. A copy of the CCP 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 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Toni Griffin, 303-236-4378 (phone); 
303-236-4792 (fax); toni_griffin@fws.gov (e-mail).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Souris River Basin is home to three 
national wildlife refuges: The Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, 
located along 28 miles of the Des Lacs River; the J. Clark Salyer 
National Wildlife Refuge, located along 50 miles of the Souris River; 
and the Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, located along 35 miles 
of the upper Souris River. The Refuges are collectively known as the 
Souris River Basin National Wildlife Refuges.
    The Refuges were established by Executive Order in 1935. The 
purpose of each Refuge is for a ``refuge and breeding ground for 
migratory birds and other wildlife.''
    The Refuges are located in a critical area of the Central Flyway, 
providing nesting and breeding habitat for migrating and nesting 
waterfowl. The J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge, in particular, 
has developed into one of the most important duck production areas in 
the United States.
    The American Bird Conservancy recognizes all three Refuges as 
``Globally Important Bird Areas.'' In addition, J. Clark Salyer 
National Wildlife Refuge is designated as a regional shorebird site in 
the ``Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.'' Lake Darling, 
located on Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, is designated as a 
critical habitat for the federally threatened piping plover.
    Representing a comprehensive collection of all North Dakota plant 
communities, these Refuges could contain the only remaining 
representatives of drift plain prairie, considered a threatened 
    This draft CCP/EA identifies and evaluates four alternatives for 
managing the Refuges for the next 15 years. Alternative A, the No 
Action alternative, reflects the current management of the Refuges. It 
provides the baseline against which to compare the other alternatives. 
Refuge 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 wildlife species. Des Lacs 
National Wildlife Refuge and J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge 
would continue to perform only limited research and would monitor only 
long-term vegetation change. Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge 
would continue to perform no scientific research or monitoring. 
Outreach, partnerships, and priority public uses

[[Page 5081]]

(fishing, hunting, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, 
environmental education, and interpretation) would continue at present 
    Alternative B is the Service's proposed action and basis for the 
draft CCP. This alternative would prioritize habitats with high 
probability of restoration for management. Other habitats may only be 
partially restored or minimally managed. Research and monitoring would 
increase, and scientific knowledge required to restore upland and 
wetland plant and animal communities would be shared (with the public 
and other resource managers). Some visitor services would be expected 
to decrease as some staff and funding shift to habitat restoration. 
Environmental education would increase.
    In Alternative C, waterfowl habitat management and waterfowl 
production would be emphasized over other refuge programs. Research and 
monitoring would focus on actions that enhance waterfowl habitat, 
increase waterfowl nest densities, and increase nest and brood 
survival. Visitor service programs that use or enhance waterfowl-
related activities, such as hunting, wildlife viewing, or environmental 
education, would be emphasized over other activities.
    Management under Alternative D would restore, to the fullest 
extent, ecological processes, vegetation communities, and wildlife 
characteristic of the presettlement period. Research and monitoring 
efforts would focus on strategies that enhance native plant and animal 
communities. Public uses that are compatible with or that support 
restoration efforts would be emphasized. Interpretation and 
environmental education would be expanded, with an emphasis on natural 
plant and animal communities, ecological processes, and restoration.
    The proposed action (Alternative B) was selected because it best 
meets the purpose and goals of the Refuges, as well as the goals of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System. The proposed action will also benefit 
federally listed species, shore birds, migrating and nesting waterfowl, 
and neotropical migrants. 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 a public meeting 
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 
newsletter. 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.

    Dated: October 3, 2006.
James J. Slack,
Deputy Regional Director, Region 6, Denver, CO.

    Editorial Note: This document was received at the Office of the 
Federal Register on January 30, 2007.

 [FR Doc. E7-1712 Filed 2-1-07; 8:45 am]