[Federal Register: June 23, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 120)]
[Page 35829-35831]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-R-2010-N084; 10137-1265-0000]

Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Oxford Slough Waterfowl 
Production Area, ID

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to prepare a Comprehensive Conservation Plan 
and Environmental Assessment; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to 
prepare a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and associated National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents for Bear Lake National 
Wildlife Refuge (NWR, Refuge), 7 miles south of Montpelier, Idaho, the 
Refuge-managed Thomas Fork Unit (Unit) in Montpelier, and the Oxford 
Slough Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) in Oxford, Idaho. We are 
providing this notice in compliance with our CCP policy to advise other 
Federal and State agencies, Tribes, and the public of our intentions 
and to obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to 
consider in the planning process.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by July 23, 2010. We will announce opportunities for public input in 
local news media throughout the CCP planning process.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any 
of the following methods:

[[Page 35830]]

    E-mail: annette_deknijf@fws.gov. Include ``Bear Lake CCP EA'' in 
the subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attn: Annette de Knijf, 208-847-1319.
    U.S. Mail: Bear Lake NWR, Box 9, Montpelier, ID 83254.
    In-Person Drop-off: You may drop off comments during regular 
business hours at Refuge Headquarters at 370 Webster St., Montpelier, 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Annette de Knijf, 208-847-1757.



    With this notice, we initiate our process for developing a CCP for 
the Bear Lake NWR in Bear Lake County, and Oxford Slough WPA in 
Franklin and Bannock Counties, Idaho. This notice complies with our CCP 
policy to (1) Advise other Federal and State agencies, Tribes, and the 
public of our intention to conduct detailed planning on this Refuge and 
WPA, and (2) obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues 
to consider in the environmental document and during development of the 


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 
    Each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System was established 
for specific purposes. We use these purposes as the foundation for 
developing and prioritizing the management of goals and objectives for 
each refuge within the National Wildlife Refuge System mission, and to 
determine how the public can use each refuge. The planning process is a 
way for us and the public to evaluate management goals and objectives 
for the best possible conservation approach to this important wildlife 
habitat, while providing for wildlife-dependent recreational 
opportunities that are compatible with each refuge's establishing 
purposes and the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
    Our CCP process provides participation opportunities for Tribal, 
State, and local governments; agencies; organizations; and the public. 
At this time we encourage input in the form of issues, concerns, ideas, 
and suggestions for the future management of Bear Lake NWR and Oxford 
Slough WPA.
    We will conduct the Environmental Assessment (EA) of this project 
in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); NEPA 
regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508); other appropriate Federal laws 
and regulations; and our policies and procedures for compliance with 
those laws and regulations.

Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge

    Bear Lake NWR was established in 1968 and is located in Bear Lake 
County, near the community of Montpelier, in southeast Idaho. The 
Refuge lies in Bear Lake Valley at approximately 5,925 feet in 
elevation in the historic location of the Dingle Swamp. The Thomas Fork 
Unit is a 1015-acre tract of land managed by the Refuge and situated at 
an elevation of 6,060 feet, approximately 20 miles east of Montpelier, 
Idaho, along U.S. Hwy. 30, near Border, Wyoming, The Unit's eastern 
boundary is the Wyoming State line.
    The Refuge is composed of an 18,000-acre emergent marsh, 1,600 
acres of uplands, and 5 miles of riparian streams. Approximately 100 
species of migratory birds nest at Bear Lake NWR, including large 
concentrations of colonial waterbirds, and many other species of 
wildlife utilize the Refuge during various periods of the year. In the 
early 1900s, the Telluride Canal Company substantially modified the 
natural hydrology of the former Dingle Swamp by diverting the Bear 
River to flow into Bear Lake for irrigation storage. The indirect 
effects were numerous and significantly altered the hydrology and 
ecological processes of the Bear Lake Watershed.

Oxford Slough Waterfowl Production Area

    Oxford Slough is the Service's only waterfowl production area in 
the Service's northwest region. It is located 10 miles north of 
Preston, Idaho, abutting the small town of Oxford. Oxford Slough, 
situated in the Cache Valley, is the drainage for Oxford and Deep 
Creeks as well as other streams and creeks in the surrounding mountain 
ranges. The Oxford Slough WPA provides valuable foraging habitat for 
species such as cranes, geese, Franklin's gulls, and white-faced ibis, 
and nesting habitat for many shorebird species.

Scoping: Preliminary Issues, Concerns, and Opportunities

    We have identified preliminary issues, concerns, and opportunities 
that we may address in the CCP. We have briefly summarized these issues 
below. During public scoping, we may identify additional issues.
    At Bear Lake NWR, Oxford Slough WPA, and the Thomas Fork Unit, the 
Service will evaluate: (1) Water management schedules to improve Refuge 
wildlife habitats and values; (2) How the Service can protect and 
improve the quantity and quality of water for fish and wildlife 
resources; (3) Actions required to minimize disturbance within the 
Refuge to nesting and migrating waterbirds and wildlife; (4) How the 
Refuge can meet increasing demands for recreational opportunities and 
provide quality visitor services programs in consideration of wildlife 
disturbance issues; (5) The best means to attain productive deep marsh 
habitats for Refuge wildlife which match or mimic the natural and 
historic vegetative composition and open water interspersion of the 
Bear Lake Watershed; (6) What can be done to prevent the introduction 
and dispersal of invasive plants and animals and facilitate their 
removal from the Refuge; (7) The Refuge's role in supporting native 
fish and riparian habitat restoration; (8) The restoration of native 
sagebrush habitats to support the long-term viability of native 
wildlife populations; (9) The most appropriate management techniques 
for the Refuge's wet meadow and upland habitats to maximize habitat 
values for key wildlife species (e.g., sandhill cranes, Canada geese), 
while assuring other native wildlife cover and forage requirements are 
also satisfied; (10) How the Refuge can adaptively manage in response 
to predicted and unpredicted challenges faced by climate change; and 
(11) How the Refuge can most appropriately assess the efficacy of 
management actions at the appropriate spatial and temporal scale.

[[Page 35831]]

Public Meetings

    We will involve the public through open houses, informational and 
technical meetings, and written comments. We will release mailings, 
news releases, and announcements to provide information about 
opportunities for public involvement in the planning process.

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.

    Dated: May 17, 2010.
Richard Hannan,
Acting Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2010-15201 Filed 6-22-10; 8:45 am]