[Federal Register: March 25, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 58)]
[Page 15769-15770]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2008-N0018; 50133-1265-PKRP-S3]

Wapack National Wildlife Refuge, Hillsborough County, NH

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: draft comprehensive conservation plan 
and environmental assessment; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of a Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and 
Environmental Assessment (EA) for Wapack National Wildlife Refuge 
(NWR), and request public review and comment on its proposals. We 
prepared the Draft CCP/EA in compliance with the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 and the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Administration Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Improvement Act of 1997.

DATES: The Draft CCP/EA will be available for public review and comment 
until the close of business on May 1, 2008. To ensure consideration, we 
must receive your comments by that date. We must also receive any 
requests for hard-copy documents for review no later than April 15, 
2008. We plan to host one public meeting on April 17, 2008 at the 
Shieling Forest visitor building, One Old Street Road, in Peterborough, 
New Hampshire. We will post additional details of that meeting 
approximately 2 weeks in advance on the Web site http://www.fws.gov/
northeast/planning/Wapack/ccphome.html, via our project mailing list, 
and in local papers.

ADDRESSES: You may obtain copies of the draft CCP/EA on compact 
diskette or in print by writing to Nancy McGarigal, Refuge Planner, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, 
Massachusetts 01035, or by electronic mail at 
northeastplanning@fws.gov; please put the words ``Wapack Refuge'' in 
your subject line. You may also view the draft document on the Web at 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nancy McGarigal, Refuge Planner, at 
the address above, by telephone at 413-253-8562, by fax at 413-253-
8468, or by electronic mail at northeastplanning@fws.gov. Please use 
the words ``Wapack Refuge'' in your subject line.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 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 the 
Service to develop a CCP for each refuge. The purpose of developing a 
CCP is to provide refuge managers with a 15-year

[[Page 15770]]

plan 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 science, natural resources 
conservation, legal mandates, and Service policies. In addition to 
outlining broad management direction on conserving wildlife and 
habitats, CCPs identify wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities 
available to the public, including wildlife observation, photography, 
environmental education, and interpretation. The Service will review 
and update each CCP at least once every 15 years, in accordance with 
the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 and the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
    The 1,625-acre Wapack NWR, established by donation in 1972, was the 
first national wildlife refuge in New Hampshire. Its purpose is for use 
as an inviolate sanctuary or for any other management purpose for 
migratory birds. Because it is un-staffed, the Great Bay NWR staff, 
headquartered in Newington, New Hampshire, administers it. The refuge 
is located about 20 miles west of Nashua, New Hampshire, and 
encompasses the 2,278-foot elevation North Pack Monadnock Mountain in 
the towns of Greenfield and Temple, New Hampshire. The terms of the 
deed require the Service to manage the refuge in a ``wilderness-like'' 
setting for wildlife. Specific deed restrictions prohibit using 
motorized vehicles, hunting and fishing, trapping, or cutting trees.
    Generally, mature northern hardwood-mixed and spruce-fir forest 
characterizes the refuge. It provides nesting habitat for numerous 
migratory songbirds, such as the black-capped chickadee, blackburnian 
warbler, black-throated blue warbler, hermit thrush, myrtle warbler, 
ovenbird, and red-eyed vireo. The refuge also supports a wide variety 
of other native wildlife, including deer, bear, coyote, fisher, fox, 
mink and weasel.
    Visitors often engage in wildlife observation and photography on 
the refuge. It is especially popular for viewing the fall migration of 
hawks. A 4-mile segment of the 21-mile Wapack Trail traverses it, and 
rewards hikers with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. Two 
other trails cross the refuge to offer a 6-mile circuit hike.
    The Draft CCP/EA evaluates two alternatives, which address eleven 
key issues identified by the public, State or Federal agencies, other 
Service programs, and our planning team. The draft CCP/EA describes 
those issues in detail. Highlights follow.
    Alternative A (Current Management): This alternative is the ``No 
Action'' alternative required by the National Environmental Policy Act 
of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4347, as amended). Alternative A defines our 
current management activities, and serves as the baseline against which 
to compare the other alternative. The Service would continue to manage 
the refuge in a ``wilderness-like'' setting, without actively managing 
its habitat, thereby allowing natural succession to continue without 
human interference. The Service would continue to allow only compatible 
uses that are consistent with a ``wilderness-like'' setting and adhere 
to other deed restrictions. We would not allow hunting, fishing, 
trapping, driving motor vehicles, or cutting trees (except for 
maintaining trails). In addition, we would continue to prohibit 
camping, mountain biking, horseback riding and dog walking. This 
alternative would not improve access to the refuge or the visibility of 
the Service in the area. We would continue our informal relationships 
with the Friends of the Wapack and the Mountain View Hiking Club to 
maintain refuge trails. We would also continue to work under a 
memorandum of agreement with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department 
to resolve inter-jurisdictional issues on the refuge as they arise.
    Alternative B (the Service-preferred alternative): Alternative B is 
the alternative we propose as the best means to manage this refuge over 
the next 15 years. It includes an array of management actions that, in 
our professional judgment, work best toward achieving the purpose of 
the refuge, our vision and goals for it and State and regional 
conservation plans. In our opinion, this alternative would most 
effectively address the key issues.
    We propose to focus on improving our baseline biological database 
and enhancing visitor services programs by expanding our partnerships 
with other federal agencies, state agencies, town departments, local 
conservation organizations, and individuals. One such project is to 
gather baseline data on the populations of plants and wildlife on the 
refuge in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. We would also use 
partnerships to maintain trails, develop and maintain a new trailhead 
parking area, and assess and monitor threats to the integrity of refuge 
habitat. We would also increase our presence on the refuge and its 
visibility in the local community, and better communicate refuge 
regulations, visitor information, and contact information.
    Under alternative B, we would manage public uses similar to 
alternative A by allowing only compatible activities that are 
consistent with a ``wilderness-like'' setting and adhere to other deed 
restrictions. The only differences are that we would allow dog walking 
on leash and recreational berry-picking.
    This alternative does not propose to expand the refuge. However, we 
would offer our support to partners engaged in other land conservation 
and protection in the area, work with them to identify lands of high 
wildlife value in need of protection, and provide them with technical 
assistance in managing them.
    After we evaluate and respond to the public comments on this Draft 
CCP/EA, we will prepare a final CCP for our Regional Director's 
approval. He will determine whether a Finding of No Significant Impact 
(FONSI) is appropriate, and certify whether the final CCP meets agency 
compliance requirements, achieves refuge purposes, and helps fulfill 
the mission of the NWRS. With an affirmative FONSI and other positive 
findings, the Regional Director can approve the final CCP. If he issues 
a FONSI and approves that final CCP, we will announce its availability 
in the Federal Register and begin its implementation.

    Dated: January 18, 2008.
Wendi Weber,
Acting Regional Director, Region 5, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Hadley, Massachusetts.
 [FR Doc. E8-6043 Filed 3-24-08; 8:45 am]