[Federal Register: December 3, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 233)]
[Page 73661-73662]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2008-N0204; 50133-1265-LKUP; S3]

Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, Coos County, NH, and 
Oxford County, ME

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: Final comprehensive conservation plan 
and environmental impact statement.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability for review of our final comprehensive conservation plan 
(CCP) and environmental impact statement (EIS) for Lake Umbagog 
National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). This document describes how we propose 
to manage the refuge for the next 15 years.

DATES: We will sign a record of decision no sooner than 30 days after 
the publication of this notice.

ADDRESSES: You may view or obtain copies of the final CCP/EIS by any of 
the following methods. You may request a print copy or CD-ROM.
    Agency Web Site: Download a copy of the document(s) at http://
    E-mail: northeastplanning@fws.gov. Include ``Lake Umbagog Final 
CCP/EIS'' in the subject line of your message.
    Mail: P.O. Box 240, Errol, NH 03579-0240.
    In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Call 603-482-3415, ext. 20, to make an 
appointment during regular business hours at Route 16 North, Errol, NH.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For answers to questions about the 
refuge, contact Paul Casey, Refuge Manager, 603-482-3415, ext. 20, e-
mail: paul_casey@fws.gov or, for questions about the planning process, 
contact Nancy McGarigal, Natural Resource Planner, 413-253-8562, e-
mail: northeastplanning@fws.gov. Please remember to put ``Lake Umbagog 
NWR Final CCP/EIS'' in the subject line of your message.



    Our publishing this notice of availability facilitates the CCP 
process for Lake Umbagog NWR that we started by publishing a notice of 
intent in the Federal Register (67 FR 136; July 16, 2002). For more 
about the process, see that notice. We released the draft CCP/EIS to 
the public and requested your comments in a notice of availability in 
the Federal Register (72 FR 129; July 6, 2007).
    We are announcing the availability of the final CCP/EIS for Lake 
Umbagog NWR, and our preferred actions for managing it, in accordance 
with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (40 CFR 1506.6(b)). 
The document contains a thorough analysis of impacts on the human 
environment. Our next planning step will be to complete a Record of 
Decision no sooner than 30 days after publication of this notice (40 
CFR 1506.10(b)(2)).
    The CCP will guide us in managing and administering the refuge for 
the next 15 years. We propose that alternative B, the Service-preferred 
alternative, serve as the foundation for the final, stand-alone CCP. We 
highlight the modifications we made to alternative B between the draft 
and final CCP/EIS in ``Comments,'' below.
    Our first purchase of land for the refuge established it in 1992. 
Its purposes are to provide long-term protection for unique wetlands, 
federal- and state-listed threatened or endangered species, migratory 
birds of conservation concern, and regionally significant 
concentrations of wildlife.
    This 21,650-acre refuge lies in Coos County, New Hampshire, and 
Oxford County, Maine. It contains widely diverse types of upland and 
wetland habitats around the 8,500-acre Umbagog Lake. Since establishing 
the refuge, we have focused primarily on conserving land within its 
approved boundary, monitoring the occupancy and productivity of its 
common loon, bald eagle, and osprey nesting sites and protecting them 
from human disturbance, conducting baseline biological inventories, and 
providing public opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation.


The CCP Process

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee; Improvement Act), which amends the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, requires us to 
develop a CCP for each national wildlife refuge. The purpose for 
developing CCPs is to provide refuge managers with 15-year plans for 
achieving refuge purposes, contributing toward the mission of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), and conforming to sound 
principles of fish and wildlife management, conservation, legal 
mandates, and our policies. In addition to outlining broad management 
direction on conserving wildlife and their habitats, CCPs identify 
wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities available to the public: 
Hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation. We will review and update 
the CCP at least once every 15 years, also in accordance with the 
Improvement Act.

CCP Alternatives

    Our draft CCP/EIS (72 FR 129) and this final CCP/EIS fully analyze 
three alternatives for the future management of the refuge. During the 
planning process, we identified and addressed 18 major issues generated 
by several sources: the public, state or federal agencies, other 
Service programs, and our planning team. Both the draft and final plans 
identify alternative B as the Service-preferred alternative.


    We solicited comments on the draft CCP/EIS for Lake Umbagog refuge 
for a 45-day period starting on July 6, 2007 (72 FR 129). In response 
to requests for additional time, we extended that comment period 
another 32 days, until September 21, 2007. We held five public hearings 
and two information sessions during that time, and received 14,269 
responses, both oral and written. We evaluated all of the written and 
electronic correspondence and oral testimony we received, and responded 
to them in final CCP/EIS appendix O, ``Summary of, and the Service's

[[Page 73662]]

Response to, Public Comments Received on the Draft Comprehensive 
Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (Draft CCP/EIS) 
for Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge.'' We present here some of 
the changes we made in our final CCP/EIS, which are also discussed in 
appendix O.
    1. In response to concerns about local economic impacts, our 
expansion proposal replaces some fee acquisition with easement 
acquisition in Maine, and reduces the total number of acres. We now 
propose to acquire from willing sellers 47,807 acres (formerly, 49,718 
acres), and change the acquisition ratio to 56 percent in fee and 44 
percent in easement. Appendix A, ``Land Protection Plan,'' shows our 
revised proposal.
    2. Two new maps clarify our proposal on the roads and trails we 
would open for public use on both current refuge lands and refuge 
expansion lands. Chapter 2, ``Alternatives Considered, Including the 
Service-preferred Alternative,'' clarifies them in maps 2.8 and 2.9. 
Item 6, below, describes them.
    3. We propose to postpone our decision on whether to manage 
furbearer species, and whether that management could include trapping. 
We will conduct further analysis and prepare a more detailed Furbearer 
Management Plan. That change, which we propose in both alternatives B 
and C, is included in chapter 2, in the section ``Actions Common to 
Alternatives B and C Only.'' Before trapping would be permitted under a 
Furbearer Management Plan, we will analyze the appropriateness of this 
use and issue a compatibility determination, if warranted, analyzing 
whether this use is compatible with the mission of the NWRS and refuge 
purposes, and under what conditions.
    4. We propose to postpone our decision on whether to expand our 
current hunt program to incorporate bobcat hunting in Maine and turkey 
hunting in Maine and New Hampshire. That action would have made our 
hunt program consistent with the states' hunt programs. However, we 
have determined the need to conduct further analysis, in conjunction 
with a revised Hunt Plan and environmental assessment, and include 
additional public comment. We propose that change in both alternatives 
B and C in the same section of chapter 2. If our hunt program is 
expanded in the future, we will issue a new compatibility determination 
with any changes to the current program.
    5. The same section of chapter 2 also clarifies our hunting and 
fishing programs. The public comments we received revealed the 
misunderstanding that our implementing alternatives B and C would 
result in new restrictions in our programs. That is not the case. We 
now provide a better explanation, and point out that we intend to 
implement the same programs on any newly acquired lands.
    6. We revise alternative B to allow certain public uses in 
designated areas that we originally planned not to allow. Those include 
dog sledding, horseback riding, bicycling, and collecting certain 
berries, fiddleheads, mushrooms, and shed antlers for personal use.
    7. We modify our proposal in alternatives B and C regarding boat 
access, by eliminating our original proposals for a boat launch at 
Sturtevant Pond and major improvements at B Pond. We are scaling back 
our proposal at B Pond to include a small parking area near the road, 
away from the shore. We also propose keeping the boat launch at the 
current refuge headquarters on Route 16 North open to public access, 
instead of closing it.

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to the methods in ADDRESSES, above, you can view or 
obtain the documents at the following locations.
     Our Web site, http://library.fws.gov/ccps.htm.
     The Errol Town Library, during regular hours.

    Dated: September 24, 2008.
Wendi Weber,
Acting Regional Director, Region 5, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Hadley, MA 01035.
[FR Doc. E8-28649 Filed 12-2-08; 8:45 am]