[Federal Register: January 22, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 14)]
[Page 3753-3755]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R2-R-2009-N212; 20131-1265-2CCP-S3]

Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge, Comprehensive Conservation 
Plan, Johnston County, OK

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: draft comprehensive conservation plan 
and draft 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 Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge 
(Refuge, NWR) for public review and comment. In these documents, we 
describe alternatives, including our preferred alternative, to manage 
this Refuge for the 15 years following approval of the final CCP. Draft 
compatibility determinations for several public uses are also available 
for review and public comment in the Draft CCP/EA.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by March 23, 2010. We will announce upcoming public meetings in local 
news media.

ADDRESSES: You may request a hard copy or CD-ROM copy of the draft CCP 
and EA by any of the following methods:
    E-mail: joseph_lujan@fws.gov. Include ``Tishomingo NWR Draft CCP 
and EA'' in the subject line of the e-mail.
    Fax: Attn: Joseph Lujan, Natural Resource Planner, 505-248-6874.

[[Page 3754]]

    U.S. Mail: Joseph Lujan, Natural Resource Planner, U.S. Fish & 
Wildlife Service, Division of Planning, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 
    In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: You may drop off comments 
during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at Tishomingo NWR 
Headquarters, 1200 South Refuge Road, Tishomingo, OK 73625; at the 
USFWS Regional Office, 500 Gold Avenue SW., 4th Floor, Room 4005, 
Albuquerque, NM 87102; or local libraries.
    Agency Web Site: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/Plan/

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joseph R. Lujan, 505-248-7458; 



    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Tishomingo NWR, 
which we started with a notice of intent to prepare a CCP that appeared 
in the November 17, 1999, issue of the Federal Register (64 FR 62683). 
For more about the initiation of this process see that notice. The 
Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge consists of 16,464 acres located in 
south-central Oklahoma. On January 24, 1946, the Refuge was authorized 
and established to preserve nesting grounds for migrating waterfowl, by 
order of U.S. President Harry S. Truman under Public Land Order 312. 
The Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Service's cooperative agreement, 
along with a cooperative agreement between the Service, Oklahoma 
Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC), and the Corps, are the 
foundation of Refuge management authority for the Service.


The CCP Process

    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 and photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation. We will review and update 
the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with the Administration 

Public Outreach

    We started the CCP process for Tishomingo NWR in October 2007. At 
that time and throughout the process, public comments were requested, 
considered, and incorporated in numerous ways. Public outreach has 
included a public scoping meeting, planning updates, a CCP Web page, 
and Federal Register notices. Comments we received cover topics such as 
wildlife, habitat, refuge management, invasive species management, 
partnerships, and visitor services. We have considered and evaluated 
all of these comments, with many incorporated into the various 
alternatives addressed in the draft CCP and the EA.

CCP Alternatives We Are Considering

    During the public scoping process with which we started work on 
this draft CCP, we, other governmental partners, Tribes, and the public 
raised several issues. Our draft CCP addresses them. A full description 
of each alternative is in the EA. To address these issues, we developed 
and evaluated the following alternatives, summarized below. The Draft 
EA/CCP presents an evaluation of the environmental effects of three 
alternatives for managing the Tishomingo Refuge for the next 15 years. 
The Service proposes to implement Alternative B, as described in the 
EA. Alternative B best achieves the Refuge's purposes, vision, and 
goals; contributes to the Refuge System mission; addresses the 
significant issues and relevant mandates; and is consistent with 
principles of sound fish and wildlife management. This alternative is 
described in more detail in the CCP.
    There are many features of proposed Refuge management that are 
common to all three alternatives. Features common to all alternatives 
include invasive species management, habitat management and 
restoration, implementation of hunting and fishing program, and 
providing wildlife observation and photography, and environmental 
education and interpretation opportunities. There are also many 
features of each alternative that are distinct.
    Alternative A, the no action alternative, assumes no change from 
current management programs and is considered the baseline to compare 
other alternatives against. Under Alternative A, the primary management 
focus of the Refuge would continue to be providing for the enhancement 
and restoration of grasslands habitat at the rate and degree equivalent 
to existing restoration practices. Recreational opportunities would 
continue to be limited to traditional programs under existing approved 
hunting and fishing plans. The Cumberland Pool would continue to 
provide public hunting and fishing and the primary Refuge hunt area 
would remain the 3,170 acre Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit. Under 
this alternative the current headquarter facilities would not be 
improved or expanded to accommodate more visitors.
    Current habitat management practices would continue including 
keeping approximately 1,000 acres of Refuge lands under cultivation. 
Total wetland acres would remain 156 acres unless increased by natural 
    Under Alternative B, the Refuge would adopt and implement the 
management efforts presented in the Tishomingo NWR CCP. The goals, 
objectives, and strategies detailed in the CCP would provide for short 
and long-term conservation and enhancement of Refuge resources and 
values while improving the overall quality of visitor services and 
addressing primary threats to the ecosystem. Under this alternative, 
existing habitat management activities would be expanded, including the 
improvement or creation of grassland habitats and moist soil units. 
This alternative would also utilize the management efforts detailed in 
the CCP to improve or expand visitor services programs and public use 
facilities on the Refuge. Additionally, under this alternative the use 
of adaptive management practices would contribute to ongoing monitoring 
and modification of Refuge resources for years to come.
    Under this alternative, increased adaptive management practices 
would contribute to the completion of measurable objectives and further 
contribute to overall improvement of Refuge resources and quality of 
visitor services.
    The Refuge habitat management program would continue to implement 
active management practices to address ecosystem threats such as 
mechanical removal of eastern red cedar, prescribed fire, and chemical 
and mechanical control of weed species to accelerate restoration of 
native plant species and enhance the quality of these habitats for 
wildlife. However, under this alternative these programs would be 
improved or expanded to more effectively utilize Refuge resources for 
habitat improvement. An example of this may include ongoing efforts to 

[[Page 3755]]

an integrated pest management approach, including prescribed fire, 
mechanical removal, herbicides, and other methods, to control invasive 
    The increased use of prescribed fire as a management tool would be 
emphasized for invasive brush and tree control. The plan calls for 
targeting and prioritizing problem areas for restoration using 
herbicides and prescribed fire as management tools. Existing areas of 
native bluestem and tall grass prairie, naturally occurring low water 
areas, riparian, timber, floodplain, and hardwood forest as well as the 
aquatic riverine habitats would be further protected and enhanced 
through planned management strategies.
    The Refuge's biological program would become more focused and 
include comprehensive inventories of wildlife species and habitats, 
thereby improving the Refuge's baseline biological information. This 
would allow staff to better evaluate habitat management decisions in 
the future and reevaluate the local and regional threats to the 
ecosystem. Approximately 1,000 acres of Refuge lands optimal for crop 
production would continue to be farmed to provide forage for migratory 
birds and resident wildlife.
    Under Alternative C, the Refuge would continue the expansion of 
habitat management and restoration activities, combined with an 
expanded public use development and an expanded farming program. This 
alternative would incorporate the habitat and wildlife management 
components called for in Alternative B; however, this alternative would 
include more concentrated efforts in developing the Refuge's public use 
programs and facilities beyond the existing program. The ODWC would 
simultaneously expand the hunting program services, but only on the 
ODWC-managed wildlife management unit, and would continue to comply 
with all applicable State hunting and wildlife regulations.
    This alternative would primarily expand visitor services by 
developing extensive public use facilities including hiking, wildlife 
observation and photography, and environmental interpretive systems.
    Additionally, the existing farming program would be expanded to 
produce increased hot foods sources for migrating waterfowl within the 
Refuge. Local populations of Canada geese are reportedly occurring in 
much fewer numbers than in previous years, largely due to the result of 
decreased agricultural activities within the region. With fewer 
supplemental food sources within the region, the Refuge is less capable 
of supporting the historically larger populations of geese. However, 
the expansion of the farming program would come at the expense of 
native grassland prairie restoration, either through conversion of 
grasslands to farm fields or by simply reducing the number of potential 
agriculture to grassland restoration sites.
    Management efforts to develop the Refuge's public use and farming 
programs with this level of intensity would require a substantial 
increase in annual operational funding and the addition of one or two 
Visitor Services Park Rangers within 5 years. Additional miles in 
hiking trails as well as motorized tour routes would fall under areas 
of annual inundation and would require heavy maintenance and upkeep. 
This alternative may or may not be feasible under the existing 
budgetary constraints.

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to any methods in ADDRESSES, you can view or obtain 
documents at the following locations:
     Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge, 12000 Refuge Road, 
Tishomingo, OK 73625.
     Our Web site: http://fws.gov/southwest/refuges/plan/
     Public Library:--The Johnston County Library--Chikasaw 
Library System, located at 116 W. Main Street Tishomingo, OK 73460, 
during regular library hours.

Submitting Comments/Issues for Comment

    We particularly seek comments on all issues.
    We consider comments substantive if they:
     Question, with reasonable basis, the accuracy of the 
information in the document;
     Question, with reasonable basis, the adequacy of the 
environmental assessment;
     Present reasonable alternatives other than those presented 
in the draft EA; and/or
     Provide new or additional information relevant to the 

Next Steps

    After this comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and 
address them in the form of a final CCP.

    Dated: December 09, 2009.
Brian A. Millsap,
Acting Regional Director, Region 2.
[FR Doc. 2010-112 Filed 1-21-10; 8:45 am]