[Federal Register: September 13, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 176)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Fish and Wildlife Service
Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge Complex (Sonny
Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge and Coachella Valley National
Wildlife Refuge), Imperial and Riverside Counties, CA
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 Environmental
Assessment (EA) for the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge
(NWR) Complex, which consists of the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR located
in Imperial County, California, and the Coachella Valley NWR located in
Riverside County, California. We provide 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 November 12, 2010.
ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any
of the following methods.
E-mail: Victoria_Touchstone@fws.gov. Include ``Sonny Bono Salton
Sea CCP'' in the subject line of the message.
Fax: Attn: Victoria Touchstone, (760) 930-0256.
U.S. Mail: Victoria Touchstone, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, San
Diego NWRC, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Suite 101, Carlsbad, CA 92011.
In-Person Drop-off: You may drop off comments at the Sonny Bono
Salton Sea NWR Office between 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; please call (760) 348-
5278 for directions.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Victoria Touchstone, Refuge Planner,
at 760-431-9440, extension 349, or Chris Schoneman, Project Leader, at
760-348-5278. Further information may also be found at http://
With this notice, we initiate our process for developing a CCP for
the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR Complex, including the Sonny Bono Salton
Sea NWR in Imperial County, CA, and the Coachella Valley NWR in
Riverside County, CA. 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 complex, and (2)
obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to consider
in the environmental document and during development of the CCP.
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 intend to review and
update the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with the
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 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, objectives, and
strategies that will ensure the best possible approach to wildlife,
plant, and habitat conservation, while providing for wildlife-dependent
recreation opportunities that are compatible with each refuge's
establishing purposes and the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge
Our CCP process provides opportunities for participation by Tribal,
State, and local governments; agencies; organizations; and the public.
We will be contacting identified stakeholders and individuals at this
time for initial input. If you would like to meet with planning staff
or would like to receive periodic updates, please contact us (see
ADDRESSES section). We anticipate holding public meetings for initial
comments and when alternative management scenarios have been
identified. At this time we encourage comments in the form of issues,
concerns, ideas, and suggestions for the future management of the Sonny
Bono Salton Sea NWR and the Coachella Valley NWR.
We will conduct the environmental review 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.
Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge Complex
The Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR Complex consists of the Sonny Bono
Salton Sea NWR and the Coachella Valley NWR. The Sonny Bono Salton Sea
NWR was established as a 32,766-acre sanctuary and breeding ground for
birds and other wildlife in 1930 (Executive Order 5498). Additional
leased lands have been added to the Refuge under the authorities of the
Migratory Bird Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 715d), ``for use as an
inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management propose, for migratory
birds'' and the Lea Act (16 U.S.C. 695), ``for the management and
control of migratory waterfowl, and other wildlife.'' Today, with the
original Refuge lands covered by the waters of the Salton Sea,
management activities are focused on about 2,000 acres of primarily
leased land. Approximately 920 acres consist of managed wetlands that
support resident and migratory birds, and another 940 acres are farmed
to provide forage for wintering geese and other migratory birds.
Existing public uses include wildlife observation, photography,
interpretation, environmental education, waterfowl hunting, and
The Coachella Valley NWR was established in 1985 under the
authorities of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1534),
``to conserve (A) fish or wildlife which are listed as endangered
species or threatened species or (B) plants.'' The 3,709-acre Refuge,
which is part of the larger Coachella Valley Preserve, protects the
federally listed endangered Coachella Valley milk-vetch (Astragalus
lentiginosus var. coachellae) and threatened Coachella Valley fringe-
toed lizard (Uma inornata), as well as other desert-dwelling species
adapted to living in the sand dune habitat of the Coachella Valley.
Access onto the Refuge is limited to a designated corridor for hiking
and equestrian use.
Scoping: Preliminary Issues, Concerns, and Opportunities
We have identified preliminary issues, concerns, and opportunities
for each Refuge that we may address in the CCP. Additional issues,
concerns, and opportunities may be identified as a result of public
scoping. For the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR, preliminary issues include:
Increasing the productivity of existing managed wetlands to support
migratory waterfowl; adapting to changing conditions associated with a
shrinking Salton Sea (e.g., conversion of habitat types, dust
management, degraded water quality); predation in seabird nesting
areas; availability of adequate nesting habitat for seabirds,
particularly gull-billed terns (Gelochelidon nilotica vanrossemi); and
the effects of climate change on Refuge resources.
For the Coachella Valley NWR, these issues include: Habitat and
species management; control of invasive weedy species; effects of
windblown sand on adjacent properties; public use; and impacts to
Refuge resources as a result of illegal motorized vehicle activity.
We will give the public an opportunity to provide input at a public
meeting (or meetings) to be held in September 2010. You can obtain the
schedule from the Refuge Planner or Project Leader (see FOR FURTHER
INFORMATION CONTACT). You may also submit comments or request a meeting
during the planning process by mail, e-mail, or fax (see ADDRESSES).
There will be additional opportunities to provide public input once we
have prepared a draft CCP.
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: August 19, 2010.
Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 2010-22731 Filed 9-10-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P