[Federal Register: April 3, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 63)]
[Page 15297-15298]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R3-R-2008-N0323 ; 30136-1265-0000-S3]

Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, Jackson, Jennings, and 
Monroe Counties, IN

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 draft 
environmental assessment (EA) for Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge 
(NWR) for public review and comment. In this draft CCP/EA, we describe 
how we propose to manage the refuge for the next 15 years.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by May 6, 2009. An open house style meeting will be held during the 
comment period to receive comments and provide information on the draft 
plan. Special mailings, newspaper articles, Internet postings, and 
other media announcements will inform people of the meetings and 
opportunities for written comments.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any 
of the following methods. You may also drop off comments in person at 
Muscatatuck NWR.
     Agency Web Site: View or download a copy of the document 
and comment at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/planning/Muscatatuck.
     E-mail: r3planning@fws.gov. Include ``Muscatatuck Draft 
CCP/EA'' in the subject line of the message.
     Fax: 812-522-6826.
     Mail: Attention: Refuge Manager, Muscatatuck National 
Wildlife Refuge, 12985 East U.S. Highway 50, Seymour, IN 47274-8518.




    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Muscatatuck NWR, 
which was started with the notice of intent we published in 72 FR 
27587-27588, May 16, 2007. For more about the initial process and the 
history of this refuge, see that notice.
    Muscatatuck NWR was approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation 
Commission and established in 1966 to provide duck breeding and 
migration habitat. The Refuge covers 7,802 acres, including the 78-acre 
`Restle' unit donated to the FWS located 45 miles northwest of the 
refuge. Muscatatuck is also responsible for nine Farm Service Agency 
(FSA) conservation easements in surrounding counties, totaling 130.5 


The CCP Process

    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 us to develop a comprehensive 
conservation plan for each national wildlife refuge. The purpose in 
developing a CCP is to provide refuge managers with a 15-year strategy 
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, plans identify wildlife-
dependent recreational opportunities available to the public, including 
opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation.

CCP Alternatives and Our Preferred Alternative

Priority Issues

    During the public scoping process, we, other stakeholders and 
partners, and the public identified several priority issues, which 
include habitat management, invasive species control, and demand for 
additional recreation opportunities and visitor services. To address 
these issues, we developed and evaluated the following alternatives 
during the planning process.

Alternative A: Current Management Direction and Activities (No Action)

    The current management direction of Muscatatuck NWR would be 
maintained under this alternative. For NEPA purposes, this is referred 
to as the ``No Action'' alternative, a misnomer as some changes will 
occur over the next 15 years. Management includes conservation, 
restoration, and preservation but occurs opportunistically as budgets 
allow. Natural processes would play a large role in the transition and 
succession of habitats, with little active management. Farming and 
water management would

[[Page 15298]]

continue in those areas where it currently exists. Some programs, 
especially environmental education and outreach, would see improvements 
only if budgets increase in the future.

Alternative B: Increased Restoration of Natural Processes; Maintain 
Focus on Priority General Public Uses

    Under Alternative B, we will focus on natural processes and promote 
natural habitat succession on the refuge. Many of the constructed 
management areas (moist soil units, open waters, green-tree reservoirs, 
and agricultural areas) are restored to more natural or historic 
landscape conditions. Management will increase in the areas of forestry 
and invasive and pest species control, and the hunting seasons are 
expanded for most game animals. This alternative proposes a reduction 
in the number of trails and fishing areas to reduce disturbances to 

Alternative C: Balance Natural Processes and Constructed Management 
Units; Increased Focus on High Quality Priority General Public Uses 
(Preferred Alternative)

    Under Alternative C, we will increase the Refuge's forest acreage 
and decrease the active management of some constructed management 
units. Former farmland areas are either forested or managed as open 
areas to increase the overall diversity of refuge habitat. Management 
will increase in the areas of forestry and invasive and pest species 
control, and hunting and fishing opportunities are expanded. The 
quality of wildlife observation, photography, and interpretation are 
all improved in this alternative.

Alternative D: Intensified Management of Constructed Management Units; 
Expanded Priority General Public Uses

    Under Alternative D, we will increase both the Refuge's forest 
acreage and its active management of constructed management areas 
(moist soil units, open waters, green-tree reservoirs, and agricultural 
areas). Wildlife observation is enhanced by placing additional acreage 
in agricultural production and by maintaining open, non-forested areas. 
In this alternative, more active forest management and invasive and 
pest species control are proposed, hunting opportunities and seasons 
for most game animals are expanded, fishing opportunities are available 
at nearly all available waters, and the quality of wildlife 
observation, photography, and interpretation are all improved.

Public Meeting

    We will give the public an opportunity to provide comments at a 
public meeting. You may obtain the schedule from the addresses listed 
in this notice (see addresses). You may also submit comments anytime 
during the comment period.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should know 
that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you may 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

    Dated: February 11, 2009.
Charles M. Wooley,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fort 
Snelling, Minnesota.
[FR Doc. E9-7482 Filed 4-2-09; 8:45 am]