[Federal Register: July 7, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 129)]
[Page 39037-39038]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R3-R-2010-N117; 30136-1265-0000-S3]

Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Morrison County, MN

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 Crane Meadows 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 August 6, 2010. 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 meeting and 
opportunities for written comments.

ADDRESSES: Comments or requests for more information can be sent by any 
of the following methods. You may also drop off comments in person at 
Crane Meadows NWR.
    1. Agency Web site: View or download a copy of the document and 
comment at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/planning/CraneMeadows/index.html.
    2. E-mail: r3planning@fws.gov. Include ``Crane Meadows Draft CCP/
EA'' in the subject line of the message.
    3. Fax: 763-389-3493.
    4. Mail: Attention: Refuge Manager, Sherburne-Crane Meadows 
National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 17076 293 Avenue, Zimmerman, 
Minnesota 55398.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Anne Sittauer, 763-389-3323.



    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Crane Meadows 
NWR, which we began by publishing a notice of intent on (73 FR 76677-
76678, December 17, 2008). For more information about the planning 
process, see that notice.
    Crane Meadows NWR was established in 1992 for `* * * the 
conservation of the wetlands of the Nation * * *' under the Emergency 
Wetland Resources Act of 1986. The Service owns and manages 
approximately 1,800 acres of 13,540 acres proposed for acquisition. The 
unique wetland complex contains rare and declining habitat types, 
important archaeological resources, a diversity of local and migratory 
species, and an abundance of recreational opportunities.


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 
Service 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 related to 
habitat, land acquisition, water resources, wildlife, visitor services, 
archaeological resources, and support for the Refuge. To address these 
issues, we developed and evaluated the following alternatives during 
the planning process.

Alternative A: Current Management Direction (No Action)

    The current management direction of Crane Meadows NWR would be 
maintained under this alternative. Required by NEPA, this is referred 
to as the ``No Action'' alternative. Land acquisition is minimal, 
conservation work on private lands is extensive, and both occur 
opportunistically. As land is acquired quality habitats are maintained 
in their current state, degraded habitats are improved or restored, and 
all habitat types are considered to have relatively equal priority. 
There is an active prescribed fire program, little involvement with 
local water resources, minimal active wildlife management, and 
monitoring efforts follow existing, broader state and federal efforts. 
Visitor use is concentrated on the Headquarters Unit, and consists of 
wildlife observation, photography, hiking, cross-country skiing, and 
snowshoeing as seasons and trail conditions allow. No hunting or 
fishing is permitted.

Alternative B: Habitat Restoration to Pre-Settlement Benchmark 
Conditions and Increased Provision of Visitors Services (Preferred 

    Alternative B portrays a long-term vision for habitat restoration 
to near-historic benchmark conditions and increases recreation 
opportunities for visitors. Historic ecological data is used to set 
habitat restoration priorities favoring savanna and wetland habitats 
over existing prairies and woodlands. This alternative includes active 
participation in monitoring and improving local water resources, a 
well-developed prescribed fire plan, increased land acquisition efforts 
in high priority areas, additional inventories and monitoring of plant 
and animal species, recreational opportunities in a greater number of

[[Page 39038]]

locations, and new visitor uses including hunting.

Alternative C: High Involvement in Watershed Improvement

    The third alternative, Alternative C, retains many of the concepts 
and objectives from alternative B, but increases the emphasis given to 
water resources both on-Refuge and in the watershed upstream of the 
wetland complex. Alternative C restores additional wetland and upland 
acres up-watershed of the Refuge, expands water resource monitoring and 
improvement activities throughout the east half of the Platte-Spunk 
watershed, targets a limited quantity of additional lands with critical 
water resource value adjacent to the existing Refuge boundary for 
acquisition, increases and directs private lands work to priority 
aquatic and riparian areas upstream of the Refuge, emphasizes fishing 
as a primary recreation opportunity, directs additional education and 
interpretation efforts to water resource topics, and highlights 
partnerships, outreach opportunities, and volunteerism that occur 
within, or directly affect the Refuge's watershed.

Public Meeting

    We will give the public an opportunity to provide input at a public 
meeting. You can obtain the schedule from the address or Web site 
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 be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at anytime. 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: June 18, 2010.
Lynn M. Lewis,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fort 
Snelling, Minnesota.
[FR Doc. 2010-16426 Filed 7-6-10; 8:45 am]