[Federal Register: October 29, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 208)]
[Page 55851-55853]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2009-N150; 40136-1265-0000-S3]

Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge, Stewart County, TN

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: Final comprehensive conservation plan 
and finding of no significant impact.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of our final comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and 
finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for the environmental 
assessment for Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). In the 
final CCP, we describe how we

[[Page 55852]]

will manage this refuge for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: A copy of the CCP may be obtained by writing to: Mr. Richard 
Hines, Refuge Manager, Cross Creeks NWR, 643 Wildlife Road, Dover, TN 
37058. The CCP may also be accessed and downloaded from the Service's 
Web site: http://southeast.fws.gov/planning/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Mike Dawson; telephone: 601/965-
4903, Extension 20; fax: 601/965-4010.



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Cross Creeks NWR. 
We started this process through a notice in the Federal Register on 
January 3, 2007 (72 FR 143). For more about the process, see that 
    Cross Creeks NWR was established on November 9, 1962, when a 
Memorandum of Agreement between the Service and the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers (Corps) was signed. The creation of Cross Creeks NWR was 
mitigation for waterfowl habitat lost due to the flooding of the former 
Kentucky Woodlands NWR. This flooding occurred as a result of the 
creation of Lake Barkley Reservoir, a project of the Corps, in 1954. 
Public Land Order 4560 formally transferred land rights of Cross Creek 
NWR to the Service.
    The refuge's name originates from the intersection of North Cross 
Creek and South Cross Creek on the refuge. Cross Creeks NWR currently 
is 8,862 acres in size. The mixture of open water, wetlands, woodlands, 
croplands, and grasslands creates a mosaic of wildlife-rich habitats. 
The refuge provides valuable wintering habitat for migrating waterfowl 
and bald eagles. It also provides habitat and protection for threatened 
and endangered species, such as gray bats, Indiana bats, and least 
    Cross Creeks NWR stretches 12 miles on either side of the Lake 
Barkley Reservoir and the Cumberland River between the cities of Dover 
and Cumberland, Tennessee. This river creates a north side and a south 
side of the refuge. The reservoir and refuge are on the middle 
transition portion of the Cumberland River between Cheatham Dam and 
Barkley Dam. The Corps operates Lake Barkley ``primarily for flood 
control, hydropower, and navigation, as well as secondary purposes of 
recreation, water quality, water supply, and fish and wildlife 
    Multiple local roads cross the refuge, which receives approximately 
45,000 visitors annually. Residents and non-residents generate $1.8 
million in expenditures annually.
    Cross Creeks NWR is in the Tennessee-Kentucky portion of the 
Mississippi Flyway. Peak wintering populations of ducks reached more 
than 108,000 in the mid-1990s. Recently, duck populations have peaked 
at 35,000-50,000. Canada geese peak wintering populations reached over 
73,000 twice in the early to mid-1990s. However, recent wintering 
populations are 4,000-5,000, with an average of 15,000 during the 
period 1997-2003.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the final CCP and 
FONSI for Cross Creeks NWR in accordance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) [40 CFR 1506.6(b)] requirements. We 
completed a thorough analysis of impacts on the human environment, 
which we included in the draft comprehensive conservation plan and 
environmental assessment (Draft CCP/EA). The CCP will guide us in 
managing and administering Cross Creeks NWR for the next 15 years. 
Alternative D is the foundation for the CCP.
    The compatibility determinations for hunting, fishing, wildlife 
observation and photography, environmental education and 
interpretation, boating, and cooperative farming are also available in 
the CCP.


    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Administration Act), as amended by the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, 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, 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, wildlife photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation. We will review and update 
the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with the Administration 


    We solicited comments on the Draft CCP/EA for Cross Creeks NWR as 
announced in the Federal Register on May 1, 2009 (74 FR 20333). Five 
public comments were received.

Selected Alternative

    After considering the comments we received and based on the 
professional judgment of the planning team, we selected Alternative D 
to implement the CCP. This alternative is judged to be the most 
effective management action for meeting the purposes of the refuge by 
optimizing habitat management and visitor services throughout the 
refuge. Over the life of the CCP, Alternative D will balance an 
enhanced wildlife management program, with increased opportunities for 
public use. Wildlife and habitat management, as well as public use 
activities, will increase under this alternative. Under this 
alternative, we will pursue the same five broad refuge goals as each of 
the other alternatives.
    We will provide foraging habitats to meet the needs of 33,100 to 
44,400 ducks (25 percent more than Alternative A) for 110 days and 
other habitats that are needed for loafing, roosting, molting, and 
other needs. We will also provide adequate foraging habitat to meet the 
needs of 15,400 migratory Canada geese for 90 days, but will evaluate 
the need for foraging habitat every 5 years and adjust accordingly. We 
will continue to provide sanctuary, as under Alternative A, backed up 
by increased enforcement to reduce illegal disturbance and trespass. In 
addition, we will seek opportunities for limited wildlife observation 
within the sanctuary. We will provide 20 to 50 properly located and 
maintained nesting boxes, brood rearing habitat, and feeding areas 
throughout the refuge.
    We will determine the status of priority marsh bird species on the 
refuge. Alternative D also calls for determining the status of 
shorebirds on the refuge and implementing active shorebird management 
on at least one impoundment during fall migration. We will develop 
additional partnerships with other agencies, non-governmental 
organizations, and the public in efforts to inventory shorebirds, 
colonial nesting waterbirds, and landbirds, and to possibly assist in 
certain habitat management activities. Under Alternative D, development 
of a baseline colonial waterbird inventory through systematic surveys 
will occur. We will develop and implement baseline inventories for non-
game mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.
    We will manage game populations to maximize quality hunting 
opportunities while maintaining habitat for Federal trust species. We 
will continue to

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protect all Federally listed species under the Endangered Species Act 
and will use partners and volunteers (when necessary) to determine the 
distribution and abundance of all listed species. When necessary, 
control of invasive animal species using approved techniques to help 
achieve refuge conservation goals and objectives will occur.
    Alternative D will focus water management within the impoundments 
on migratory birds for the duration of the CCP. We will accomplish this 
by providing adequate and reliable flooded habitat throughout the 
refuge and assuring that water management capability can distribute 
water in a timely manner. We will make a concerted effort to 
accommodate sport fishing opportunities where and when circumstances 
    Alternative D calls for expanding efforts to improve the moist-soil 
management program on at least 300 acres by expanding the invasive 
plant control program, water management capabilities, and the use of 
management techniques that set back plant succession. We will also make 
a concerted effort to accommodate sport fishing opportunities where and 
when circumstances allow. Increasing the acreage of other habitats, 
such as mudflats, native submerged and emergent aquatic vegetation, 
flooded woodlands, beaver ponds, and open water that provides food 
resources, as well as habitats for loafing, resting, roosting, and 
molting, will occur under Alternative D.
    We will develop and begin to implement a Forest Management Plan to 
benefit nesting and migratory birds. For the duration of the CCP, we 
will explore possibilities of managing for scrub-shrub habitat to 
benefit certain birds in suitable locations on the refuge. We will 
explore the potential benefits of planting and managing native warm 
season grasses on formerly farmed fields (up to 75 percent of existing 
cultivated acreage). Over the lifetime of the CCP, we will gradually 
phase out cooperative farming in favor of force-account or contract 
farming of wheat, corn, milo, and millet on 600 acres to meet wildlife 
foraging objectives.
    We will control invasive species through active methods of removal. 
These methods will work towards reducing the infestation and 
eliminating populations whenever feasible. We will also extend control 
efforts to include Eurasian water milfoil and develop partnerships with 
other agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the public in these 
control efforts.
    Within 5 years, we will draft, approve, and begin to implement a 
new Visitor Services Plan, using the current format as a guide. We will 
provide quality fishing and compatible water-related recreation 
programs on 3,260 acres of the refuge by furnishing adequate launching 
facilities, bank fishing areas, and, based on availability of funding, 
at least one ADA-compliant pier to accommodate anglers of all 
abilities. We will develop and begin to implement a Cultural Resources 
Management Plan.
    Throughout the life of the CCP, we will manage game populations to 
maximize quality hunting opportunities while maintaining habitat for 
Federal trust species. We will continue to provide environmental 
education services to the public, including visits to schools, 
environmental education workshops, and onsite and offsite environmental 
education programs. However, we will also expand the refuge's role as 
an outdoor classroom both for students and the general public for 
Stewart and surrounding counties.
    We will continue to offer opportunities for wildlife observation 
and photography throughout the refuge, accessible along the refuge road 
system from March 16 to November 14, but with the addition of a 
wildlife observation deck next to the visitor center. Within 5 years, 
we will explore the feasibility of building a wildlife observation 
tower near Pool 1. Also within 5 years, we will increase the number of 
wayside signs and add wildlife signs along the Woodpecker Interpretive 
Trail, as well as develop an interpretive kiosk at Elk Reservoir.
    We will maintain the staff of nine fulltime employees, including 
the refuge manager, park ranger, office assistant, maintenance 
mechanic, assistant refuge manager, one forester to serve all Tennessee 
and Cumberland Rivers refuges, one biologist, one law enforcement 
officer, and one equipment operator. We will replace the now separate 
visitor center and headquarters with one common building. We will 
maintain the existing equipment fleet, replacing obsolete equipment as 
needed. We will add three portable toilets along the road system. 
Finally, we will install three pumps and will add farm and fire 
management equipment, such as corn planter, all-terrain vehicles, and 
pumper truck.

    Authority: This notice is published under the authority of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, Public Law 

    Dated: August 6, 2009.
Michael L. Piccirilli,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. E9-26055 Filed 10-28-09; 8:45 am]