[Federal Register: August 19, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 161)]
[Page 48388]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 48388]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R6-R-2008-N0059; 60138-1265-6CCP-S3]

Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan for Nine Wetland Management 
Districts, North Dakota

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announce that 
our Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental 
Assessment (EA) for the nine Wetland Management Districts (Districts) 
is available. The nine Districts include Arrowwood, Audubon, Chase 
Lake, Crosby, Devils Lake, J. Clark Salyer, Kulm, Lostwood, and Valley 
City Districts, located throughout the State of North Dakota. This 
Draft CCP/EA describes how the Service intends to manage these 
Districts for the next 15 years.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
on the draft CCP/EA by September 18, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Please provide written comments to John Esperance, 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; via facsimile at 303-236-
4792; or electronically to John_Esperance@fws.gov. A copy of the CCP/
EA 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 http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Esperance, 303-236-4369 (phone); 
303-236-4792 (fax); or John_Esperance@fws.gov (e-mail).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The wetland management districts provide 
oversight for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's small wetlands 
acquisition programs, that from receipts from Duck Stamp funds, acquire 
habitat under the provisions of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The nine 
districts manage 1,208 waterfowl production areas (232,509 acres), tens 
of thousands of conservation easements, and 50 wildlife development 
areas (18,540 acres) in 34 counties in North Dakota. These district 
lands (totaling 1,125,100 acres) are part of the National Wildlife 
Refuge System, a network of lands set aside to conserve fish and 
wildlife and their habitat.
    This draft CCP/EA identifies and evaluates three alternatives for 
managing the districts for the next 15 years. Alternative A, funding, 
staff levels, and management activities at the districts would not 
change. Programs would follow the same direction, emphasis, and 
intensity as they do at present. The Service would prioritize 
management of wildlife habitat and associated species at the districts' 
WPAs into high, medium, and low areas. Only high-priority WPAs receive 
consistent management. District staffs conduct limited, issue-driven 
research and limited monitoring and inventory of birds and vegetation.
    The district staffs monitor all conservation easements and high-
priority easement violations are consistently enforced. On a multiyear 
rotation among districts, the staffs conduct public use events and 
workshops with such groups as school districts, youth groups, and 
conservation groups.
    Alternative B, the Service's proposed action, wildlife habitat 
management would enhance wetlands and uplands, where warranted, on 
district lands. Management objectives for habitat types would be based 
on the habitat preferences of groups of target species such as 
waterfowl, migratory shorebirds, grassland birds, and threatened and 
endangered species. District staff would focus on high-priority tracts 
and medium-priority tracts. The district staff would carry out 
compatible techniques, such as nest boxes for waterfowl, to enhance 
production of targeted migratory bird populations. The district staff 
would maintain existing environmental education and visitor services 
programs, with additional waterfowl emphases. The Service proposes, at 
a future date, (1) one new administration and visitor center facility 
each for Audubon and Kulm wetland management districts, and (2) one new 
visitor contact station each for Lostwood, Valley City, and Arrowwood 
wetland management districts.
    Alternative C, management by the district staff would be more 
intensive and widespread, targeting native prairie and wetland habitat. 
As a priority, district staff would seek out restoration projects that 
expand and return native grasslands to quality native prairie. This 
alternative would have potential for additional management options that 
address habitat requirements and needs of specific groups of water-
dependent birds such as waterfowl and shorebirds. The staff would 
develop new environmental education and visitor services programs. The 
Service proposes, at a future date, (1) one new administration and 
visitor center facility each for Audubon and Kulm wetland management 
districts, and (2) one new visitor contact station each for Lostwood, 
Valley City, and Arrowwood wetland management districts.
    Opportunity for public input will be provided by the Service. All 
public comment information provided voluntarily by mail, by phone, or 
at 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: August 13, 2008.
David Lucas,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. E8-19145 Filed 8-18-08; 8:45 am]