[Federal Register: February 26, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 38)]
[Page 10278-10279]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2008-N0012, 50130-1265-0000-S3]

Erie National Wildlife Refuge, Crawford County, PA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

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


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to 
prepare a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and an associated 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document for Erie National 
Wildlife Refuge (NWR). We provide this notice in compliance with our 
planning policy to advise other agencies, Tribes, and the public of our 
intentions, and to obtain suggestions and information on the scope of 
issues to consider. We are also requesting public comments.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by April 30, 2008. We will hold public meetings to begin the CCP 
planning process; see Public Meetings under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. 
We will announce opportunities for public input in local news media 
throughout the CCP planning process, and will announce upcoming public 
meetings in local news media and the refuge Web site.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any 
of the following methods.
    Electronic mail: northeastplanning@fws.gov. Include ``Erie NWR CCP/
EA'' in the subject line of the message.
    U.S. Postal Service: Erie NWR, 11296 Wood Duck Lane, Guys Mills, PA 
    In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call 814-789-3585 to make 
an appointment during regular business hours at 11296 Wood Duck Lane, 
Guys Mills, PA.
    Fax: 814-789-2909.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas Roster, Project Leader, at 585-
948-5445, or Thomas Bonetti, Planning Team Leader, at 413-253-8307.



    With this notice, we initiate our process for developing a CCP for 
Erie NWR in Crawford County, Pennsylvania. We provide this notice in 
compliance with our planning policy to (1) advise other Federal and 
State agencies and the public of our intention to conduct detailed 
planning on this refuge, and (2) obtain suggestions and information on 
the scope of topics to consider in the environmental document and 
during development of the CCP.


The CCP Process

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 
(Improvement Act) (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), which amended the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, requires us to 
develop a CCP for each national wildlife refuge. The purpose for 
developing a CCP is to provide refuge managers with a 15-year plan for 
achieving refuge purposes and contributing toward the mission of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), consistent with 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, 
including opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation. We will 
review and update the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with 
the Improvement Act and NEPA.
    We establish each unit of the NWRS for specific purposes. We use 
these purposes as the bases to develop and prioritize management goals 
and objectives for the refuge within the NWRS mission, and to determine 
how the public can use the refuge. The planning process is a way for us 
and the public to evaluate management goals and objectives for the best 
possible conservation approach to this important wildlife habitat, 
while providing for wildlife-dependent recreation opportunities that 
are compatible with the refuge's establishing purposes and the mission 
of the NWRS.
    Our CCP process provides opportunities for Tribal, State, and local 
governments; agencies; organizations; and the public to participate. At 
this time, we encourage the public to provide input in the form of 
issues, concerns, ideas, and suggestions for the future management of 
Erie NWR.
    We will conduct the environmental review of this Environmental 
Assessment in accordance with the requirements of NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 
et seq.); NEPA regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508); other appropriate 
Federal laws and regulations; and our policies and procedures for 
compliance with those laws and regulations.

Erie National Wildlife Refuge

    Erie NWR was established in 1959 under the Migratory Bird 
Conservation Act for ``* * * use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any 
other management purpose, for migratory birds (16 U.S.C. 715d).'' The 
8,800-acre Erie NWR lies 35 miles south of Lake Erie in northwestern 
Pennsylvania in the glaciated Appalachian Plateau. The refuge is 
entirely within the French Creek watershed, which is considered an 
ecologically significant watershed nationally, as well as in 
Pennsylvania, with globally rare freshwater mussels and fish. Erie NWR 
is the only national wildlife refuge that hosts the Federal and State 
endangered clubshell and northern riffleshell freshwater mussels. 
Twenty-two mussels species, dozens of native fishes, and several rare 
plants and natural communities are found in the Muddy-Dead Creek 
drainage in the Seneca Division of the refuge. The Sugar Lake Division, 
10 miles south, is more actively managed with a series of freshwater 
impoundments and natural stream drainages, wetland complexes, and 
uplands of mature forest, shrublands, and grasslands.

Scoping: Preliminary Issues, Concerns, and Opportunities

    We have identified preliminary issues, concerns, and opportunities 
that we may address in the CCP. We have briefly summarized these issues 
below. During public scoping, we may identify additional issues.
    Erie NWR incorporates several management techniques to create 
desired habitat types and wildlife rich environments. Some of the 
management techniques to be addressed in the CCP will include 
prescribed fire, mowing, water level management, invasive species 
control through herbicide application, removal/management of select 
artificial nest structures, mechanical manipulation of habitats, and 
cropland management.
    Additionally, public use throughout the refuge will be reevaluated 
in relation to wildlife dependent recreation and other mission 
compatible uses. These uses will include waterfowl, big game, small 
game, and turkey hunting; fishing and fishing access points; trapping 
area(s) and the permitting process; seasonal access throughout the 
refuge; deletion, addition, or modification of

[[Page 10279]]

the trails, parking areas; and other visitor facilities.

Public Meetings

    We will involve the public through open houses, informational and 
technical meetings, and written comments. We will release mailings, 
news releases, and announcements to provide information about 
opportunities for public involvement in the planning process. You can 
obtain the schedule from the planning team leader or project leader 
(see ADDRESSES). You may also submit comments anytime during the 
planning process by mail, electronic mail, or fax (see ADDRESSES). 
There will be additional opportunities to provide public input once we 
have prepared a draft CCP.
    We anticipate that public meetings will be held in at least two 
locations: Guys Mills, Pennsylvania; and Meadville, Pennsylvania. For 
specific information including dates, times, and locations, contact the 
project leader (see ADDRESSES) or visit our Web site at http://

Public Availability of Comments

    Our practice is to make comments, including names, home addresses, 
home phone numbers, and electronic mail addresses of respondents 
available for public review. Individual respondents may request that we 
withhold their names and/or home addresses, etc., but if you wish us to 
consider withholding this information, you must state this prominently 
at the beginning of your comments. In addition, you must present a 
rationale for withholding this information. This rationale must 
demonstrate that disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted 
invasion of privacy. Unsupported assertions will not meet this burden. 
In the absence of exceptional, documentable circumstances, this 
information will be released. We will always make submissions from 
organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives of or officials of organizations or 
businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety.

    Dated: February 19, 2008.
Wendi Weber,
Acting Regional Director, Northeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Hadley, Massachusetts.
[FR Doc. E8-3576 Filed 2-25-08; 8:45 am]