[Federal Register: December 10, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 236)]
[Page 69703-69704]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan for Souris River Basin 
National Wildlife Refuges, North Dakota

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces that 
the final Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental 
Assessment (EA) for the Souris River basin national wildlife refuges 
(Refuges) is available. This final CCP/EA describes how the Service 
intends to manage the refuges for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: Please provide written comments to Toni Griffin, Planning 
Team Leader, Division of Refuge Planning, P.O. Box 25486, Denver 
Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225, 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); or toni_griffin@fws.gov (e-mail).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Souris River Basin is home to three 
national wildlife refuges, known collectively as the ``Souris River 
basin refuges:''
     Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, along 28 miles of the 
Des Lacs River.
     J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge, along 50 miles 
of the Souris River.
     Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, along 35 miles of 
the upper Souris River.
    The Souris River basin 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 Souris River basin 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 at 
Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge is designated 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 
    The draft CCP/EA was made available to the public for a 30-day 
review and comment period following the announcement in the Federal 
Register on February 2, 2007 (72 FR 5080-5081). The draft CCP/EA 
identified and evaluated four alternatives for managing the refuges for 
the next 15 years.
    Alternative A, the No Action alternative, reflects the current 
management of the Souris River basin 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 (fishing, hunting, wildlife observation, wildlife 
photography, environmental education, and interpretation) would 
continue at present levels.
    Alternative B is the Service's proposed action and basis for the 
CCP. This alternative will prioritize habitats with high probability of 
restoration for management. Other habitats may only be partially 
restored or minimally managed. Research and monitoring will increase 
and scientific knowledge required to restore upland and wetland plant 
and animal communities will be shared (with the public and other 
resource managers). Some visitor services are expected to decrease as 
some staff and funding shifts to habitat restoration. Environmental 
education will 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-

[[Page 69704]]

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 Service is furnishing this notice to advise other agencies and 
the public of the availability of the final CCP, to provide information 
on the desired conditions for the refuges, and to detail how the 
Service will implement management strategies. Based on the review and 
evaluation of the information contained in the EA, the Regional 
Director has determined that implementation of the final CCP does not 
constitute a major Federal action that would significantly affect the 
quality of the human environment within the meaning of section 
102(2)(c) of the National Environmental Policy Act. Therefore, an 
Environmental Impact Statement will not be prepared. Future site-
specific proposals discussed in the final CCP will be addressed in 
separate planning efforts with full public involvement.

    Dated: September 12, 2007.
Gary G. Mowad,
Acting Deputy Regional Director, Denver, Colorado.
 [FR Doc. E7-23867 Filed 12-7-07; 8:45 am]