[Federal Register: September 13, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 176)]
[Page 55599-55600]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R2-R-2010-N158; 20131-1265-2CCP S3]

Little River National Wildlife Refuge, McCurtain County, OK; 
Revised Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to 
prepare a revised comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and 
environmental assessment (EA) for Little River National Wildlife 
Refuge, located in McCurtain County, Oklahoma. 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, please send your written comments by 
March 14, 2011. We will announce opportunities for public input in 
local news media throughout the CCP process.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any 
of the following methods.
    E-mail: rob_campellone@fws.gov. Include ``Little River National 
Wildlife Refuge CCP NOI'' in the subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attn: Rob Campellone, Chief, Division of Planning, 505-248-
    U.S. Mail: Rob Campellone, Chief, Division of Planning, P.O. Box 
1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103-1306.
    In-Person Drop-off: You may drop off comments during regular 
business hours at the Refuge Headquarters located at 635 South Park 
Drive, Broken Bow, OK 74728.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rob Campellone, Chief, Division of 
Planning, Telephone: 505-248-6631; Fax: 505-248-6803; e-mail: rob_



    With this notice, we initiate our process for developing a revised 
CCP for Little River NWR (Refuge), located in McCurtain County, OK. 
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 (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 will review and update 
the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with the Administration 
Act, as amended.
    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 and objectives 
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 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 Little River NWR.
    We will conduct the environmental review of this project and 
develop an EA 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.

Little River National Wildlife Refuge

    Little River National Wildlife Refuge is located in McCurtain 
County, Oklahoma, and encompasses 13,660 acres of bottomland hardwood 
forests. The Refuge is approximately 96 percent forested with small 
areas of open water, shrub swamps, beaver ponds, and roads. The plant 
communities are complex and reflect small elevation changes, complex 
soils and hydrologic regimes, and other ecosystem processes that have 
created and maintained a highly diverse plant community across the 
Refuge. The forested matrix contains mostly natural second- and third-
growth bottomland hardwood forests, with inclusions of loblolly pine 
components on high terraces and stringers of riparian forests along the 
rivers, cypress swamps and cypress-lined oxbow lakes, and buttonbush 
shrub swamps. The canopy trees are roughly 50-70 years old with 
scattered patches of much older trees where topography and drainage 
patterns precluded timber harvest prior to the Refuge's establishment.

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.
    Habitat Issues--Habitat alteration, fragmentation, and loss of the 
bottomland hardwood forest and freshwater ecosystems.
    The bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem habitat located in the 
Upper West Gulf Coastal Plain has been influenced through human 
disturbances (development and/or exploitation) and faces rapid 
alterations and disturbances as a consequence of climate change. These 
impacts are expected to stress and alter the bottomland hardwood forest 
ecosystem utilized by trust wildlife resources. Long-term unmitigated 
impacts are expected to create population and habitat shifts, increase

[[Page 55600]]

invasive species, and change forest productivity.
    Human activities causing pollution and water quantity and quality 
degradation, along with habitat fragmentation and loss, have caused 
environmental changes in freshwater systems. The Little River drains a 
watershed of approximately 2,225 square miles and provides habitat for 
the Federally listed Ouachita rock pocketbook mussel (Arkanasii 
wheeleri), Scaleshell mussel (Leptodea leptodon), and Winged mapleleaf 
mussel (Quadrula fragosa), along with a host of other imperiled 
freshwater species. Human-created stressors, along with climate change 
stressors, can negatively affect the biodiversity of freshwater 
ecosystems. These impacts are expected to alter the freshwater 
ecosystem utilized by USFWS trust resources and the human population.
    Wildlife Issues--Feral hog management and migratory birds.
    The presence of feral hogs (Sus scrofa) results in substantial 
damages to the natural resources on the refuge. The detrimental effects 
of free-ranging feral hogs can be found throughout the entire refuge, 
as population numbers have increased without a control mechanism. Feral 
hogs are highly adaptable, have high reproductive capabilities, and can 
be found in a wide range of habitat types. Feral hogs cause widespread 
impacts to the refuge habitat, compete with native wildlife species for 
food resources, and can transmit infectious diseases to humans, 
domestic livestock, and native wildlife species.
    Trust migratory bird species that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service is mandated to protect are under pressure and at risk from a 
number of stressors (e.g., habitat loss and degradation, development, 
pollution, and invasive species), in addition to climate change. 
Evidence suggests that climate change is affecting the distribution, 
abundance, and population dynamics of a wide range of migratory bird 
species (forest dwelling and waterfowl) that rely on a bottomland 
hardwood forest ecosystem to provide essential habitat for survival.
    Public Use Opportunities and Access--Enhancing Wildlife Dependent 
Recreation Opportunities.
    The bottomland hardwood forest protected by the Little River NWR 
provides the public with quality recreational opportunities to learn 
about and enjoy the ecological diversity and history of the refuge in a 
largely natural setting. Improving opportunities for wildlife-dependent 
recreational uses (six priority public uses) that are compatible with 
the purpose of the refuge will promote broader community support and 
understanding of the value and need for wildlife conservation and 
    Facilities--Public Contact Station.
    The refuge receives over 10,000 visitors annually, and visitor use 
continues to rise as the public becomes more aware of the wide variety 
of wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities provided by the 
refuge. A public contact station is needed to provide facilities to 
enhance the public's experience of nature and the great outdoors and to 
educate the public about the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge 
System and the role of Little River NWR in achieving it.

Public Meetings

    We will give the public an opportunity to provide input at one or 
more public meetings. You may obtain the schedule from the planning 
team leader or project leader (see addresses). You may also send 
comments anytime 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 11, 2010.
Joy E. Nicholopoulos,
Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Region 2.
[FR Doc. 2010-22732 Filed 9-10-10; 8:45 am]