[Federal Register: February 23, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 34)]
[Page 8103-8104]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2008-N0191; BAC 4311-K9]

Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, Sussex, NJ

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: final comprehensive conservation plan 
and finding of no significant impact for environmental assessment.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. 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 (EA) for Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in 
Sussex County, New Jersey. In that final CCP, we describe how we will 
manage this refuge for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: You may view or obtain copies of the final CCP and FONSI by 
any of the following methods. You may request a hard copy or CD-ROM.
    Agency Web Site: Download a copy of the document(s) at http://
    E-mail: northeastplanning@fws.gov. Include the words ``Wallkill 
River final CCP'' in the subject line of your message.
    U.S. Mail: Edward Henry, Refuge Manager, Wallkill River NWR, 1547 
County Route 565, Sussex, New Jersey 07461.
    In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Call Wallkill River NWR at 973-702-
7266 to make an appointment during regular business hours at 1547 
County Route 565, Sussex, New Jersey. The final document is also 
available at the library listed under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION, below.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Beth Goldstein, Refuge Planner, by 
phone at 413-253-8564, or by electronic mail at Beth_



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Wallkill River 
NWR. We started that process by publishing a notice of intent in the 
Federal Register (64 FR 30; February 16, 1999). For more information 
about the process, see that notice. We announced the release of the 
draft CCP/EA to the public and requested their comments in a notice of 
availability in the Federal Register (73 FR 23; February 4, 2008).
    Congress established the Wallkill River NWR by law on November 16, 
1990, (Section 107 of H.R. 3338; Public Law 101-593) with the following 
purposes: (1) To preserve and enhance the refuge's lands and waters in 
a manner that will conserve the natural diversity of fish, wildlife, 
plants, and their habitats for present and future generations, (2) to 
conserve and enhance populations of fish, wildlife, and plants within 
the refuge, including populations of black ducks and other waterfowl, 
raptors, passerines, and marsh and water birds, (3) to protect and 
enhance the water quality of aquatic habitats within the refuge, (4) to 
fulfill international treaty obligation of the United States with 
respect to fish and wildlife and their habitats, and (5) to provide 
opportunities for compatible scientific research, environmental 
education, and fish and wildlife-oriented recreation (104 Stat. 2955).

[[Page 8104]]

    The refuge's acquisition boundary is 7,500 acres, and stretches 
from Sussex County, New Jersey, to Orange County, New York. It is 
located along a 9-mile stretch of the Wallkill River, and lies in a 
rolling valley within the Appalachian Ridge and Valley physiographic 
province. The region's major wetlands are former glacial lake bottoms, 
and the lake's organic muck soils support extensive bottomland hardwood 
forests, wet meadows, and farm fields. Since establishing the refuge, 
we have acquired approximately 5,106 acres, and have focused primarily 
on conserving, restoring, and enhancing the natural diversity of fish, 
wildlife, and plants, and their habitats, along the Wallkill River. 
Refuge management activities include restoring wetlands, creating moist 
soil management units, maintaining grasslands, and providing 
opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the FONSI and the 
final CCP for Wallkill River NWR in accordance with the requirements 
under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (40 CFR 1506.6(b)). 
We completed a thorough analysis of impacts on the human environment, 
which we included in the draft CCP/EA.
    The CCP will guide us in managing and administering Wallkill River 
NWR for the next 15 years. Alternative B, which we describe in the 
draft CCP/EA as the Service-preferred alternative, is the foundation 
for the final CCP.


    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 a CCP is to provide refuge managers with a 15-year plan for 
achieving refuge purposes and contributing to the mission of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System in a manner consistent with the 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, observing and 
photographing wildlife, and enjoying environmental education and 
interpretation. We will review and update the CCP at least every 15 
years, in accordance with the Improvement Act.

CCP Alternatives, Including Alternative B, the Selected Alternative

    Our draft CCP/EA (73 FR 23) identifies and addresses several issues 
in its chapter 1, ``The Purpose of and Need for Action.'' In that 
document, we developed three alternatives to respond to those issues. 
Alternative A represents current management. Alternative B focuses on 
managing for priority species and habitats. Alternative C proposes to 
establish and maintain the ecological integrity of natural communities 
on the refuge and surrounding landscape without specific emphasis or 
concern for any particular species or species groups. We identified 
alternative B as the Service-preferred alternative for several reasons. 
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 those lands, and goals in state and regional 
conservation plans. In our opinion, alternative B most effectively 
addresses the key issues. We recommended alternative B to our Regional 
Director as the better alternative for managing this refuge over the 
next 15 years. He selected it for development into the final CCP.
    The final CCP will expand the refuge's original acquisition 
boundary by 9,550 acres, creating a new refuge acquisition boundary of 
17,050 acres total. We will acquire new lands from willing sellers 
through a combination of fee-simple and easement purchase. The 
expansion area includes four focus areas. The 7,079-acre Papakating 
Creek Focus Area is the largest, and encompasses a 15-mile tributary of 
the Wallkill River. All four focus areas have tremendous wetland 
resource values, and together they form a key corridor connecting 
preserved habitats on the Kittatinny Ridge to the west and the Hudson 
Highlands to the east. The expansion area will fully complement and 
enhance the Federal, State, and private conservation partnerships 
actively involved in protecting this unique ecosystem.
    In the final CCP, we will allocate more resources toward managing 
and monitoring federal-listed species that now live or historically 
lived on the refuge. We will take a more proactive approach to 
restoring wetlands, and establish a 100-meter forested riparian 
corridor along either side of the Wallkill River. We will establish 
three grassland focus areas on the refuge, and let other small fields 
revert to scrub-shrub habitat.
    We will open the part of the refuge in New Jersey to bear hunting 
according to State seasons, and provide at least one additional fishing 
access site within the original refuge acquisition boundary. We will 
increase access to Service-owned lands by opening at least two new 
trails and extending an existing trail. We will also develop new 
interpretive materials, and work with partners to expand our 
environmental education programs.


    We solicited comments on the draft CCP/EA for Wallkill River NWR 
from February 4, 2008 to April 9, 2008. We held public meetings in 
Augusta, New Jersey, on February 20, 2008; in Wantage, New Jersey, on 
February 21, 2008; and in Warwick, New York, on March 6, 2008. We 
evaluated all comments received during the public comment period, and 
included them with our responses as appendix J of the final CCP.

Selected Alternative

    After considering the comments we received, we have selected 
alternative B from the draft CCP/EA.

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to the methods in ADDRESSES above, you can view or 
obtain documents at the Sussex-Wantage Branch Library, 69 Route 639, 
Wantage, New Jersey 07461, during regular library hours.

    Dated: December, 29, 2008.
Thomas J. Healy,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hadley, MA 
[FR Doc. E9-3702 Filed 2-20-09; 8:45 am]