[Federal Register: February 12, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 29)]
[Page 6870-6872]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R2-R-2009-N196; 20131-1265-2CCP]

Washita and Optima National Wildlife Refuges, Comprehensive 
Conservation Plan, Custer and Texas Counties, TX

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: Final comprehensive conservation plan 
and finding of no significant impact for environment assessment.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of our final comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and 
finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and environmental assessment 
(EA) for the Washita and Optima National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs, 
Refuges) near Butler, Oklahoma. In this final CCP, we describe how we 
will guide the development and management of the Washita and Optima 
NWRs for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: You may view or obtain copies of the final CCP and FONSI/EA 
or request a CD-ROM by any of the following methods:
    Agency Web Site: Download a copy of the document(s) at: http://
    E-mail: jeffrey_missal@fws.gov (include ``Washita and Optima NWRs 
Final CCP'' in the subject line of the message).
    Mail: Jeffrey Missal, Natural Resource Planner, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103-1306.
    In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Call 505-248-7409 to make an 
appointment during regular business hours at 500 Gold Street Ave., SW., 
Albuquerque, NM 87102.
    Local Library: The document(s) are also available for review at the 
library listed under the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

[[Page 6871]]

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeffrey Missal, 505-248-7409; 



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Washita and 
Optima Refuges. We started this process through a notice in the Federal 
Register (64 FR 62683; November 17, 1999). We released the draft CCP 
and the EA to the public, announcing and requesting comments in a 
notice of availability in the Federal Register (72 FR 52903; September 
17, 2007).
    Washita NWR was established in 1961 as an overlay Refuge on Bureau 
of Reclamation lands and waters of Foss Reservoir, ``[to be] 
administered by [the Secretary of the Interior] directly or in 
accordance with cooperative agreements. * * * and in accordance with 
such rules and regulations for the conservation, maintenance, and 
management of wildlife, resources, thereof, and its habitat thereon'' 
(Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act; 16 U.S.C. 664), and ``for use as 
an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for 
migratory birds'' (Migratory Bird Conservation Act; 16 U.S.C. 715d). 
Comprised of the northern portion of Foss Reservoir, adjacent wetlands, 
uplands, and the Washita River corridor in western Oklahoma, the 8,075-
acre Refuge is managed to provide habitat and food for migrating and 
wintering populations of geese and ducks in the Central Flyway, 
contributing to conservation of waterfowl resources. The Refuge has 
also been managed to provide a diversity of habitats for a wide range 
of migratory bird species, including the whooping crane (Federally 
listed as endangered), shorebirds, and neotropical migratory birds 
(i.e., birds that breed in the United States or Canada, but migrate to 
winter ranges in Mexico, Central America, South America, or the 
Caribbean Islands). Deer, coyote, bobcat, badger, opossum, and other 
resident wildlife species thrive on the Refuge as well. Management 
efforts at Washita Refuge focus on enhancing wetlands and uplands for 
migratory birds and other wildlife species.
    The Optima National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1975 under 
the authority of the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661-
667e, as amended), by agreement between the Department of the Interior 
and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. While the original purpose of the 
4,333-acre Refuge was provision of wintering and resting habitat for 
migratory waterfowl of the Central Flyway, the Refuge provides little 
habitat for migratory waterfowl due to lower than anticipated water 
impoundment rates in the Optima Reservoir. The Optima Refuge is 
currently managed for resident wildlife and migratory birds. The lack 
of water has reduced the potential for waterfowl management. The Refuge 
provides an island of largely undisturbed habitat for migratory 
songbirds and resident species, including white-tailed deer, coyote, 
Rio Grande turkey, and scaled quail.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the final CCP and 
FONSI for Washita and Optima NWRs in accordance with National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (40 CFR 1506.6(b)) requirements. We 
completed a thorough analysis of impacts on the human environment, 
which we included in the EA that accompanied the draft CCP.
    The CCP will guide us in managing and administering the Washita and 
Optima Refuges for the next 15 years. Alternative C, as we described in 
the final CCP, is the foundation for the CCP.


    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 

CCP Alternatives, Including Selected Alternative

    Our draft CCP and our EA addressed several issues. Priority issues 
included depredation of crops on farms adjacent to Washita Refuge by 
geese attracted to the Refuge, the need for more complete resource 
inventory of the biological resources of both Refuges, public pressure 
for additional recreational opportunities on the Refuges, and the 
difficulty of managing resources on Optima Refuge with no permanent 
staff on site. To address these priority issues, we developed and 
evaluated the following alternatives during the planning process.

                                                                             C: Integrated
                                     A: No-action       B: Custodial no   management actions  D: Maximum habitat
                                      alternative      active management    and public use         management
Issue 1: Depredation............  Remain at Current   Depredation         Farming continued   Farming acreage
                                   Levels.             Efforts Ceased.     and reviewed for    increased.
                                                                           and effectiveness.
Issue 2: Baseline Inventory.....  Remain at Current   Efforts Ceased....  Baseline inventory  Baseline Inventory
                                   Levels.                                 accomplished.       Accomplished.
Issue 3: Environmental Education  Remain at Current   Closed to Public..  Hiking trail and    Builds upon Alt. 3
 and Community Outreach.           Levels.                                 visitor center      but adds
                                                                           development,        vehicular access,
                                                                           educational         canoe access and
                                                                           programs            wildlife viewing
                                                                           increased.          platforms.
Issue 4: Cultural Resources.....  Remain at Current   Efforts Ceased....  Identification and  Conduct a cultural
                                   Levels.                                 monitoring of       resources survey.
                                                                           existing sites.
Issue 5: Funding and Staffing...  Remain at Current   No Action.........  Slight to moderate  Slight to moderate
                                   Levels.                                 increase.           increase.
Issue 6: Water Management.......  Remain at Current   Program would be    Remain at Current   Remain at Current
                                   Levels.             cut.                Levels.             Levels.

[[Page 6872]]

Issue 7: Hunting Opportunity....  Waterfowl and Deer  Closed to Public..  Evaluation of       Evaluation of
                                                                           additional          additional
                                                                           hunting.            hunting.


    We solicited comments on the draft CCP and the EA for the Washita 
and Optima NWRs from September 17, 2007, to November 2, 2007 (72 FR 
52903). We thoroughly evaluated all received comments and included them 
in the CCP when possible.

Selected Alternative

    After considering the comments we received, we selected Alternative 
C for implementation. This alternative (now the CCP) describes how 
habitat objectives will be accomplished through a combination of 
management activities (farming, moist soil created wetlands, periodic 
prescribed burning, and mechanical and chemical exotic species control 
methods) to encourage ecological integrity, promote native prairie 
restoration, control invasive plant species, and provide/enhance 
habitat for migratory waterfowl, grassland birds, and other resident 
wildlife. We selected this alternative because it best meets the 
purposes and goals of the Washita and Optima NWR Complex. This action 
will not adversely impact endangered or threatened species or their 
habitat. Opportunities for wildlife-dependent activities such as 
observation, photography, environmental education, and interpretation 
will be enhanced. Future management actions will have a neutral or 
positive impact on the local economy, and the recommendations in the 
CCP will ensure that Refuge management is consistent with the mandates 
of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to the methods in ADDRESSES, you can view or obtain 
documents at the following locations:
     Our Web site: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/Plan/
     Public Library: Elk City Carnegie Library, located at 221 
W. Broadway Ave., Elk City, OK 73644-4741, during regular library 

    December 15, 2009.
Thomas L. Bauer,
Acting, Regional Director, Region 2.
[FR Doc. 2010-2904 Filed 2-11-10; 8:45 am]