[Federal Register: October 4, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 191)]
[Page 61171-61173]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2010-N164; BAC-4311-K9-S3]

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, Genesee County and Orleans 
County, NY

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of draft comprehensive conservation plan 
and environmental assessment; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of the draft comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and 
environmental assessment (EA) for Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge 
(NWR) for a 30-day public review and comment period. In this draft CCP/
EA, we describe three alternatives, including our Service-preferred 
Alternative B, for managing this refuge for the next 15 years. Also 
available for public review and comment is the draft compatibility 
determinations, which is included as Appendix A in the draft CCP/EA.

DATES: To ensure our consideration of your written comments, we must 
receive them by November 3, 2010. We will also hold an open house and 
public meeting at the refuge in the town of Alabama, New York, during 
the 30-day review period to receive comments and provide information on 
the draft plan. We will announce and post details about the public 
meeting in local news media, via our project mailing list, and on our 
Regional planning Web site, http://www.fws.gov/northeast/planning/

ADDRESSES: Send your comments, requests for more information, or 
requests for copies of the draft CCP/EA by any of the following 
    U.S. Mail: Thomas Bonetti, Natural Resource Planner, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035.
    Facsimile: Attention: Thomas Bonetti, 413-253-8468.
    Electronic mail: northeastplanning@fws.gov. Include ``Iroquois NWR 
CCP'' in the subject line of your message.
    Agency Web site: View or download the draft document at http://
    In-Person Drop Off: You may drop off comments during regular 
business hours at Iroquois NWR, 1101 Casey Road, Basom, NY 14013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas Roster, Project Leader, 

[[Page 61172]]

NWR, 1101 Casey Road, Basom, NY 14013; phone: 585-948-5445; facsimile: 
585-948-9538; electronic mail: northeastplanning@fws.gov.



    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Iroquois NWR, 
which we started by publishing a notice in the Federal Register (73 FR 
10279; February 26, 2008). We prepared the draft CCP in compliance with 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4347, as 
amended) (NEPA) and 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) (Improvement Act).
    Iroquois NWR was established in 1958 under the Migratory Bird 
Conservation Act for ``* * * use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any 
other management purpose, for migratory birds.'' (16 U.S.C. 715d). The 
refuge consists of more than 10,800 acres within the rural townships of 
Alabama and Shelby, New York, midway between Buffalo and Rochester. 
Freshwater marshes and hardwood swamps are bounded by forests, 
grasslands, and wet meadows. These areas serve the habitat needs of 
both migratory and resident wildlife, including waterfowl, songbirds, 
mammals, and amphibians, as well as numerous indigenous plant species.


The CCP Process:

    The Improvement Act requires us to develop a CCP for each national 
wildlife refuge. The purpose for developing CCPs is to provide refuge 
managers with 15-year plans for achieving refuge purposes and the 
mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), in conformance 
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 each CCP at least every 15 
years, in accordance with the Improvement Act.

Public Outreach

    In conjunction with our Federal Register notice announcing our 
intent to begin the CCP process, open houses and public information 
meetings were held in Western New York at three different locations 
during April 2008. Meetings were advertised locally through news 
releases, Web sites, and our mailing list. Participants were encouraged 
to actively express their opinions and suggestions. The public meetings 
allowed us to gather information and ideas from local residents, 
adjacent landowners, and various organizations and agencies.
    Throughout the process, we have conducted additional outreach via 
newsletters and participation in meetings, and continued to request 
public input on refuge management and programs. We considered and 
evaluated all comments, and incorporated many of them into the varied 
alternatives in the draft CCP/EA.

CCP Actions We Are Considering, Including the Service-Preferred 

    We developed three management alternatives based on the purposes 
for establishing the refuge, its vision and goals, and the issues and 
concerns the public, State agencies, and the Service identified during 
the planning process. The alternatives have some actions in common, 
such as protecting cultural resources, developing step-down management 
plans, and controlling invasive plant species. Other actions 
distinguish the alternatives. The draft CCP/EA describes the 
alternatives in detail, and relates them to the issues and concerns we 
identified during the planning process. The following are highlights of 
each of the alternatives.

Alternative A (Current Management)

    This alternative is the ``No Action'' alternative, as required by 
NEPA. Alternative A defines our current management activities, and 
serves as the baseline against which to compare the other alternatives. 
A selection of this alternative would maintain the status quo in 
managing the refuge for the next 15 years. No major changes would be 
made to current management practices. This alternative provides a basis 
for comparing the other two alternatives.
    Current management of refuge impoundments would continue, resulting 
in no change in the amount of open water and emergent marsh habitat 
available to refuge wildlife. Forested habitat on the refuge would 
increase as the refuge allows natural succession of some early 
successional grassland and shrubland habitats. We would continue to 
eliminate small, isolated grasslands that do not provide significant 
habitat, leading to a 138-acre decrease in grassland habitat as 
compared to current levels. Refuge shrublands would continue to be cut 
at a rate of 10-20 acres annually, resulting in a decrease of 445 acres 
of shrubland habitat as compared to current levels. We would maintain 
existing opportunities for visitors to engage in wildlife observation 
and photography, environmental education, interpretation, hunting, and 
fishing on the refuge. We would also maintain existing infrastructure 
and buildings, and current staffing levels.

Alternative B (Service-Preferred Alternative)

    This alternative is the one we propose as the best way to manage 
this refuge over the next 15 years. It includes the array of management 
actions that, in our professional judgment, works best toward achieving 
the refuge purposes, our vision and goals, and the goals of other State 
and regional conservation plans. We also believe it most effectively 
addresses the key issues raised during the planning process.
    Under Alternative B, refuge habitat management would focus on 
decreasing habitat fragmentation and restoring native habitats. Similar 
to Alternative A, management of refuge impoundments would not change, 
with no change in the amount of open water and emergent marsh habitat 
available. The amount of early successional habitat, including 
grasslands and shrublands, would slightly increase as the refuge 
removes remaining hedgerows and improves connectivity between these 
habitats. The refuge would also convert 202 acres of non-native conifer 
plantations, replacing most of these plantations with native tree 
species. Some plantations, located in shrubland management areas, would 
be converted to native shrub species.
    Similar to many other national wildlife refuges, we propose to 
limit public access to designated areas of the refuge year-round. 
Wildlife observation and photography, hiking, and walking would be 
permitted on established refuge nature trails. Off-trail access would 
be limited to permitted hunters participating in refuge hunting 
programs. Limiting off-trail access would reduce human disturbance to 
foraging and resting waterfowl and other migratory birds using refuge 
    Under this alternative, we would renovate and expand the existing 
refuge headquarters building as a new visitor contact station and 
administration building. We also propose to co-locate

[[Page 61173]]

the Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, currently 
located in Amherst, New York, in this new building. The 10,609 square-
foot building would house a sales outlet for the Friends of Iroquois 
National Wildlife Refuge, an exhibit hall, multi-purpose room, 
conference room, and office space to accommodate Service Refuge and 
Fisheries programs staff and New York State Department of Environmental 
Conservation staff.
    We would also continue our biological monitoring and inventory 
program, but regularly evaluate the results to help us better 
understand the implications of our management actions and identify ways 
to improve their effectiveness.

Alternative C (Natural Systems)

    Refuge management under Alternative C would focus on restoration of 
natural ecosystem processes and functions. Habitat management would 
target a more natural state and emphasize restoration of native 
habitats. Refuge impoundments would no longer be actively managed, 
resulting in a 329-acre decrease in open water and emergent marsh 
habitat. Only the two largest grassland units would be managed, leading 
to a 50 percent reduction in the amount of grassland habitat. We would 
also discontinue active management of shrubland habitat, with only some 
native shrub swamp habitat remaining. Under this alternative, forest 
cover would increase by 1,548 acres through the natural succession of 
refuge grasslands, shrublands, open water, and emergent marsh habitat. 
Similar to Alternative B, non-native conifer plantations would be 
replaced with native tree species.
    We propose to limit public access to designated areas of the refuge 
year-round, allowing wildlife observation, hiking, and walking on 
established refuge nature trails. Also, we propose to co-locate the 
Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office currently 
located in Amherst, New York, with a new visitor contact station and 
administration building at Iroquois NWR.

Public Meetings

    We will give the public opportunities to provide input at an open 
house and public meeting at the refuge headquarters in Alabama, New 
York. You can obtain the schedule from the project leader or natural 
above). You may also submit comments at any time during the planning 
process by any means shown in the ADDRESSES section.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comments, 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: September 9, 2010.
James G. Geiger,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hadley, MA 
[FR Doc. 2010-24836 Filed 10-1-10; 8:45 am]