[Federal Register: April 24, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 78)]
[Page 18742-18744]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2009-N0057; 40136-1265-0000-S3]

Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, Orleans Parish, LA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

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


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announce the 
availability of a draft comprehensive conservation plan (Draft CCP/EA) 
for Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) for public review and 
comment. In this Draft CCP/EA, we describe the alternative we propose 
to use to manage this refuge for the 15 years following approval of the 
Final CCP.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by May 26, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Send comments, questions, and requests for information to: 
Mr. Pon Dixson, Deputy Project Leader, Southeast Louisiana National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex, 61389 Highway 434, Lacombe, LA 70445. A copy 
of the Draft CCP/EA is available on both compact disc and hard copy, 
and it may be accessed and downloaded from the Service's Internet Site: 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Pon Dixson; telephone: 985/882-
2014; fax: 985/882-9133; e-mail: pon_dixson@fws.gov.



    With this notice we continue the CCP process for Bayou Sauvage NWR. 
We started the process through a notice in the Federal Register on May 
16, 2008 (72 FR 27585).


The CCP Process

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Improvement Act), 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, 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 Improvement Act.
    Bayou Sauvage NWR is in eastern Orleans Parish, Louisiana, and is 
entirely situated within the corporate limits of the city of New 
Orleans. It is the largest national wildlife refuge in an urban area of 
the United States, and is one of the last remaining marsh areas 
adjacent to the south shores of Lakes Pontchartrain and Borgne. The 
refuge consists of 24,000 acres of wetlands and is bordered on three 
sides by water: Lake Pontchartrain on the north, Chef Menteur Pass on 
the east, and Lake Borgne on the south. The western side of the refuge 
is bordered by the Maxent Canal and lands that consist of bottomland 
hardwood habitat and exotic species, such as Chinese tallow and china 
berry. Un-leveed portions of the refuge consist of estuarine tidal 
marshes and shallow water. The Hurricane Protection Levee System, along 
with roadbeds, created freshwater impoundments, which altered the plant 
communities as well as the fish communities within these impoundments. 
Small forested areas exist on the low, natural ridges formed along 
natural drainages and along manmade canals.

CCP Alternatives, Including our Proposed Alternative

    We developed three alternatives for managing the refuge and chose 
Alternative B as the proposed alternative. A full description is in the 
Draft CCP/EA. We summarize each alternative below.

[[Page 18743]]

Alternative A: Continuation of Current Refuge Management (No Action)

    This alternative represents no change from current management of 
the refuge and provides a baseline. Management emphasis would continue 
to be directed towards accomplishing the refuge's primary purposes. 
Refuge staff would continue to restore and maintain emergent marsh--
both tidally influenced and impounded, natural levee ridges, bottomland 
hardwood forests, spoil banks, and shallow open water bodies, all of 
which constitute a wide range of habitats within the refuge boundaries.
    Current refuge management would continue to provide wintering and 
nesting habitats for migratory and resident waterfowl, wading birds, 
and migrating songbirds. The operation and management of the refuge 
would provide for the basic needs of these species, including feeding, 
resting, and breeding. The planting of vegetation used for food, 
nesting and cover, and moist-soil management in eight different water 
management units that cater to a variety of different species would 
continue to be priorities. At least two aerial waterfowl surveys would 
continue to be conducted.

Alternative B: Restoring and Improving Refuge Resources (Proposed 

    This action was selected by the Service as the alternative that 
best signifies the vision, goals, and purposes of the refuge. Under 
Alternative B, the emphasis would be on restoring and improving refuge 
resources needed for wildlife and habitat management, while providing 
additional public use opportunities. This alternative would also allow 
the refuge to provide law enforcement protection that adequately meets 
the demands of an urban environment.
    This alternative would focus on augmenting wildlife and habitat 
management to identify, conserve, and restore populations of native 
fish and wildlife species, with an emphasis on migratory birds and 
threatened and endangered species. This would partially be accomplished 
by increased monitoring of waterfowl, other migratory birds, and 
endemic species in order to assess and adapt management strategies and 
actions. The restoration of fresh and brackish marsh systems and 
hardwood forests would be a vital part of this proposed action and 
would be crucial to ensuring healthy and viable ecological communities 
following Hurricane Katrina. This restoration would require increased 
wetland vegetation and tree plantings, and the use of beneficial 
dredge, breakwater structures, and organic materials to promote 
reestablishment of emergent marsh and to reduce wave energy erosion 
along Lakes Pontchartrain and Borgne. Improving and monitoring water 
quality and active moist-soil management would assist in reestablishing 
freshwater marsh habitat.
    The refuge would more aggressively control and, where possible, 
eliminate invasive plant species by seeking funding through the 
Service's invasive species control program. The control of Chinese 
tallow trees and cogon grass along the hardwood ridge would be a focal 
point. The control of nuisance wildlife would increase to include 
yearly population evaluations and more aggressive trapping programs for 
feral hogs and nutria.
    Alternative B enhances the refuge's visitor services opportunities 
by: Improving and providing additional fishing opportunities; 
considering providing limited hunting opportunities on the refuge; 
providing environmental education that emphasizes refuge restoration 
activities, coastal conservation issues, and the diversity of water 
management regimes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; establishing 
a visitor center or contact station on the refuge; developing and 
implementing a visitor services management plan; and enhancing personal 
interpretive opportunities. Volunteer programs and friends groups also 
would be expanded to enhance all aspects of refuge management and to 
increase resource availability.
    Land acquisitions within the approved acquisition boundary would be 
based on importance of the habitats for target management species and 
for their public use value. The refuge headquarters would not only 
house administrative offices, but would offer interpretation of refuge 
wildlife and habitats, and would demonstrate habitat improvements for 
individual landowners. The headquarters facilities would be developed 
as an urban public use area with trails; buildings presently not being 
used and landscaping would be refurbished for visitor and community 
    In addition to the enforcement of all Federal and State laws 
applicable to the refuge to protect archaeological and historical 
sites, the staff would identify and develop a cultural resources plan 
to protect all known sites. The allocation of one law enforcement 
officer to the refuge would not only provide security for these 
resources, but would also ensure visitor safety and public compliance 
with refuge regulations.

Alternative C: Optimize Public Use Opportunities

    Active management of refuge resources would be employed to optimize 
public use opportunities. Resources would be dedicated to increasing 
the public use activities of fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation, and a 
limited hunting program would be considered. All purposes of the refuge 
and mandated monitoring of Federal trust species and archaeological 
resources would be continued, but other wildlife management would be 
dependent on public interests.
    This alternative would utilize a custodial habitat management 
strategy. Moist-soil units would not be actively managed and would be 
allowed to revert back to brackish tidal marsh. These units would also 
be maintained near full pool level to facilitate public use 
opportunities, such as fishing and canoeing. Hardwood forest habitat in 
high public use areas would be restored and all other areas would 
recover naturally with no management intervention.
    Increased wildlife observation, wildlife photography, and 
interpretation opportunities would result from the construction of an 
on-site visitor's center, canoe and birding tours, kiosks, and trail 
signs. Additionally, waterfowl and wildlife monitoring would be 
conducted periodically to identify high use areas for the visiting 
public to observe. Environmental education would be expanded by 
addressing a wide range of local and global environmental concerns and 
would be offered to a broader range of student groups and schools. New 
information brochures and tear sheets would be published to increase 
public outreach and to promote public use and recreational 
    Land acquisitions within the approved acquisition boundary would be 
based on the importance of the habitat for public use. Administration 
plans would stress the need for increased maintenance of existing 
infrastructure and construction of new facilities that would benefit 
public use activities. The refuge would operate with the current level 
of staff. Law enforcement of refuge regulations and protection of 
wildlife and visitors would continue at current levels.

Next Step

    After the comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and 
address them.

[[Page 18744]]

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment, including your personal identifying 
information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
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.

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

    Dated: March 16, 2009.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. E9-9411 Filed 4-23-09; 8:45 am]