[Federal Register: December 4, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 232)]
[Page 68174-68176]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge and UL Bend National 
Wildlife Refuge, Montana

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare a comprehensive conservation plan 
and environmental impact statement; request for comments.


SUMMARY: This notice advises that we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 

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(Service), intend to gather information necessary to prepare a 
comprehensive conservation plan (plan) and environmental impact 
statement (EIS) for the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, 
including UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge (UL Bend is a refuge within 
a refuge), located in north-central Montana. We are furnishing this 
notice in compliance with Service Refuge Planning policy to advise 
other agencies and the public of our intentions, and to obtain 
suggestions and information on the scope of issues to be considered in 
the planning process.

DATES: Written comments must be received by February 4, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Comments and requests for more information regarding the 
Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge or UL Bend National 
Wildlife Refuge should be sent to Laurie Shannon, Planning Team Leader, 
Division of Refuge Planning, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, 
Denver, Colorado 80225.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laurie Shannon, 303-236-4317; or 
Laurie_Shannon@fws.gov; or John Esperance, Chief, Branch of 

Comprehensive Conservation Planning, 303-236-4369.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Service has initiated the Plan and EIS 
for the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and UL Bend 
NWR with headquarters in Lewistown, Montana.
    The Charles M. Russell NWR and UL Bend NWR extend west 125 miles 
along the Missouri River from Fort Peck Dam in north-central Montana. 
The Refuges contain approximately 1,100,000 acres including the Fort 
Peck Reservoir. Habitat includes native prairie, forested coulees, 
river bottoms, and badlands. Wildlife is as diverse as the topography, 
and common species include elk, mule deer, Rocky Mountain bighorn 
sheep, pronghorn antelope, sharp-tailed grouse, prairie dogs, and over 
236 species of birds. The Refuges are located within Fergus, Garfield, 
Petroleum, Phillips, McCone, and Valley Counties.
    In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 
7509 establishing the Fort Peck Game Range and providing ``That the 
natural forage resources therein shall be first utilized for the 
purpose of sustaining in a healthy condition a maximum of four hundred 
thousand (400,000) sharp-tail grouse, and one thousand five hundred 
(1,500) antelope, the primary species, and such nonpredatory secondary 
species in such numbers as may be necessary to maintain a balanced 
wildlife population, but in no case shall the consumption of forage by 
the combined population of the wildlife species be allowed to increase 
the burden of the range dedicated to the primary species: Provided 
further, That all the resources within this range or preserve shall be 
available, except as herein otherwise provided with respect to 
wildlife, for domestic livestock * * * And provided further, That land 
within the exterior limits of the area herein described * * * may be 
utilized for public grazing purposes only to the extent as may be 
determined by the said Secretary (Agriculture) to be compatible with 
the utilization of said lands for the purposes for which they were 
acquired * * *.''
    Originally, the game range was administered jointly by secretaries 
for the Departments of Agriculture (the Service was the Bureau of 
Biological Survey under Department of Agriculture until 1939) and 
Interior. On February 25, 1963, the Fort Peck Game Range was 
redesignated the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Range by Public 
Land Order 2951. On March 25, 1969, Public Land Order 4588 established 
UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge on approximately 39,456 acres in 
Phillips County and revoked Executive Order 7509 on those lands. On 
October 19, 1976, Public Law 94-557 (90 Stat 2633-2634), designated 
approximately 28,890 acres in UL Bend as the UL Bend Wilderness. On 
February 27, 1976, the administrative status of Charles M. Russell and 
all other game ranges in the nation was changed by the signing of 
Public Law 94-223 (90 Stat. 199), commonly called the Game Range Act, 
which brought to a close the joint management between the Bureau of 
Land Management and the Service and vested management authority of 
Charles M. Russell NWR with the Service. Public Land Order 5635 (1978) 
changed the name of the game refuge to Charles M. Russell National 
Wildlife Refuge and clarified the administration and management of the 
Refuge under the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 
1966 (16 U.S.C 668dd-668ee). Additional legislation and mandates exist 
between the Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the 
operation of the Fort Peck Dam and Reservoir.
    Each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System, including the 
Charles M. Russell and UL Bend NWRs, has specific purposes for which it 
was established and for which legislation was enacted.
    Those purposes are used to develop and prioritize management goals 
and objectives within the National Wildlife Refuge System mission, and 
to guide which public uses will occur on these Refuges. The planning 
process is a way for the Service and the public to evaluate management 
goals and objectives for the best possible conservation efforts of this 
important wildlife habitat while providing for wildlife-dependent 
recreation opportunities that are compatible with the Refuges' 
establishing purposes and the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge 
    The Service will conduct a comprehensive conservation planning 
process that will provide opportunity for tribal, State, and local 
governments; Federal and State agencies; organizations; and the public 
to participate in issue scoping and public comment. The Service is 
requesting input for issues, concerns, ideas, and suggestions for the 
future management of the Charles M. Russell and UL Bend NWRs. Anyone 
interested in providing input is invited to respond to the following 
three questions.
    (1) What do you value most about the Charles M. Russell and UL Bend 
National Wildlife Refuges?
    (2) What problems or issues do you want to see addressed in the 
    (3) What changes, if any, would you like to see in the management 
of the Charles M. Russell and UL Bend National Wildlife Refuges?
    The Service has provided the above questions for your optional use. 
The planning team developed these questions to facilitate finding out 
more information about individual issues and ideas concerning these two 
units of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Comments received by the 
planning team will be used as part of the planning process; individual 
comments will not be referenced in our reports or responded to 
    An opportunity will be given to the public to provide input at open 
houses to scope issues and concerns (schedules can be obtained from the 
planning team leader at the address listed above). Comments may be 
submitted anytime during the planning process by writing to that 
address. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail, or other 
personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware 
that your entire comment, including your personal identifying 
information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.
    The Environmental Review of this project will be conducted in 

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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; and 
Service policies and procedures for compliance with those laws and 
regulations. All comments received from individuals on Service 
Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements become 
part of the official public record. Requests for such comments will be 
handled in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, NEPA (40 CFR 
1506.6(f)), and other Departmental and Service policies and procedures.

    Dated: November 27, 2007.
Stephen Guertin,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. E7-23467 Filed 12-3-07; 8:45 am]