[Federal Register: May 18, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 96)]
[Page 28066-28067]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Fairfax 
County, VA, and Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge in Prince William 
County, VA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare a comprehensive conservation plan 
and environmental assessment; announcement of public scoping and 
request for comments.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service, we, our) is 
gathering the information needed to prepare a comprehensive 
conservation plan (CCP) and associated environmental assessment (EA) 
for Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck and Featherstone National Wildlife 
Refuges (NWR), two of the three refuges in the Potomac River NWR 
Complex. We publish this notice in compliance with our policy of 
advising other agencies and the public of our intentions to conduct 
detailed planning on refuges and obtain suggestions and information 
about the scope of issues to consider in the planning process.

DATES: To ensure our consideration of your written comments, you must 
submit them by June 18, 2007. We held public scoping meetings in March 
2007 after announcing their locations, dates, and times at least 2 
weeks in advance, in special mailings, notices in local newspaper, on 
our Web site, and through personal contacts.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information on the 
planning process to Nancy McGarigal, Refuge Planner, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA, 01035; 413-
253-8562 (telephone); 413-253-8468 (fax); northeastplanning@fws.gov 
(electronic mail). If submitting an electronic mail, please put ``Mason 
Neck NWR'' or ``Featherstone NWR'' in the subject line.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: To obtain more information on the refuges, 
contact the Potomac River NWR Complex, 14344 Jefferson Davis Highway 
Woodbridge, VA, 22191, at 703-490-4979 (telephone); 
fw5rw_msnnwr@fws.gov (electronic mail); http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/

index.cfm?id=51610 (Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck NWR Web site); http://www.fws.gov/Refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=51612
 (Featherstone NWR Web 


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice initiates the comprehensive 
conservation planning process for Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck (Mason 
Neck) and Featherstone NWRs, headquartered in Woodbridge, Virginia.


The CCP Process

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as 
amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 
(16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), requires us to develop a comprehensive 
conservation plan for each national wildlife refuge. The purpose of a 
CCP is to provide refuge managers with 15-year strategies for achieving 
refuge purposes and contributing to the mission of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), in conformance with the sound principles 
of fish and wildlife management and conservation, legal mandates, and 
Service policies. In addition to providing broad management direction 
on conserving wildlife and habitat, the plans identify wildlife-
dependent recreational opportunities available to the public, including 
opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation.
    We establish each refuge for specific purposes, and use those 
purposes to develop and prioritize its management goals, objectives, 
and public uses. The planning process is one way for us and for the 
public to evaluate those goals and objectives for the best possible 
conservation of important wildlife habitat, while providing 
opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation compatible with those 
purposes and the mission of the NWRS.
    We request your input on all issues, concerns, ideas, improvements 
and suggestions for the future management of Mason Neck and 
Featherstone NWRs in Fairfax and Prince William Counties, Virginia, 
    You may submit comments at any time during the planning process by 
writing to the refuge planner (see ADDRESSES, above).
    We will conduct the environmental review of this project in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321, et seq.), the Council 
on Environmental Quality Regulations on NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), 
other appropriate Federal laws and regulations, and our policies and 
procedures for complying with them. All of the comments we receive on 
either our environmental assessments or our environmental impact 
statements become part of their official public record. We will handle 
requests for those comments in accordance with the Freedom of 
Information Act, NEPA (40 CFR 1506.6(f)), and other policies and 
procedures of the Department or the Service. When we receive such a 
request, we will provide comment letters with the names and addresses 
of the individuals who wrote them. However, to the extent permissible 
by law, we will not provide the telephone numbers of those individuals.

Mason Neck and Featherstone NWRs

    Mason Neck and Featherstone NWRs are two of the three refuges in 
the Potomac River NWR Complex. The Occoquan Bay NWR is the third. We 
established that refuge in 1972, and completed its CCP in 1997. The 
refuge complex headquarters is located in Woodbridge, Prince William 
County, Virginia. The refuges provide natural habitat important for 
wildlife in a landscape otherwise dominated by urban development, 18 
miles south of Washington, DC.
    The 2,277-acre Mason Neck NWR lies in Fairfax County, Virginia. 
Established in 1969, it was the first national wildlife refuge set 
aside specifically to protect the federally-listed bald eagle. Its 
other purposes are to protect natural resources, conserve fish and 
wildlife, and develop compatible fish- and wildlife-oriented 
recreation. The refuge habitats include oak-hickory forest, freshwater 
marsh, and 4.4 miles of shoreline along the Potomac River. Bald eagles 
shelter and nest in its mature forests and forage and hunt along its 
marshes, bays, and river. Seven bald eagle nests are located on or near 
the refuge, as well as an eagle roost and a wintering population of 50-
60 birds.
    Other significant resources on the refuge include the largest 
freshwater marsh in northern Virginia and one of the State's largest 
great blue heron rookeries, with more than 1,400 nests. More than 200 
species of birds, 31 species of mammals, and 44 species of reptiles and 
amphibians use the refuge. It is also part of the Chesapeake Bay 
Estuary Complex, designated by the RAMSAR Convention as a ``Wetland of 
International Importance.''

[[Page 28067]]

    Each year, about 16,000 visitors hunt, observe or photograph 
wildlife, or enjoy wildlife interpretation at Mason Neck NWR. Its 
special events, refuge interpretive programs, three hiking trails, two 
of which are accessible to persons with disabilities, provide 
outstanding opportunities for visitors to experience nature.
    The 325-acre Featherstone NWR lies in Prince William County, 
Virginia, near the Town of Woodbridge. Established pursuant to 84 Stat. 
1095 in 1970, the refuge protects the natural features of a contiguous 
wetland area. Its narrow strip of land, bordered on the east by the 
shore of the Potomac River and the mouth of Neabsco Creek and on the 
west by an active railroad right-of-way, provides habitat for migratory 
land birds, shorebirds, waterfowl, ospreys, and a bald eagle nest 
    Featherstone NWR lacks legal public access; consequently, we close 
it to public use except under special use permit. It also lacks 
facilities or management activities that support public use.

    Dated: March 8, 2007.
Richard O. Bennett,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hadley, Massachusetts.
[FR Doc. E7-9605 Filed 5-17-07; 8:45 am]