[Federal Register: October 15, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 199)]
[Page 63502-63503]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-R-2010-N169; 80230-1265-0000-S3]

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; 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 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 December 14, 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, 
Refuge Planning, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Suite 101, Carlsbad, CA 
    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, extension 227. Further information may also be found at 



    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 
Administration Act.
    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,

[[Page 63503]]

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 
scientific research.
    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.

Public Meetings

    We will give the public an opportunity to provide input at a public 
meeting (or meetings). 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: October 5, 2010.
Alexandra Pitts,
Acting Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 2010-25923 Filed 10-14-10; 8:45 am]