[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 111 (Thursday, June 9, 2011)]
[Pages 33777-33778]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-14325]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2011-N043; BAC-4311-K9-S3]

Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, Middlesex County, 
CT; 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) for Stewart B. McKinney 
National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). An environmental assessment (EA) 
evaluating effects of various CCP alternatives will also be prepared. 
We provide this notice in compliance with our 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. We are also announcing public 
meetings and requesting public comments.

DATES: We will hold public meetings to begin the CCP planning process; 
see Public Meetings under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for dates, times, 
and locations. 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: northeastplanning@fws.gov. Include ``Stewart B. McKinney 
NWR'' in the subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attention: Bill Perry, 413-253-8468.
    U.S. Mail: Bill Perry, Refuge Planner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035.
    In-Person Drop-off: You may drop off comments during regular 
business hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Perry, 413-253-8688 (phone), 
Bill_Perry@fws.gov (e-mail).



    With this notice, we initiate our process for developing the CCP 
for Stewart B. McKinney NWR, with headquarters located in Middlesex 
County, CT. 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 (NWRS), 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

[[Page 33778]]

in accordance with the Administration Act.
    Each unit of the NWRS 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 NWRS 
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 NWRS.
    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 Stewart B. McKinney 
    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.

Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge

    Stewart B. McKinney NWR encompasses over 900 acres of forest, 
barrier beach, tidal wetland, and island habitats. The refuge consists 
of 10 separate units along the Connecticut coast from Westbrook to 
Greenwich. Lands include eight islands and three coastline locations. 
Located in the Atlantic Flyway, the refuge provides important resting, 
feeding, and nesting habitat for many species of wading birds, 
shorebirds, songbirds, and terns, including the endangered roseate 
tern. Adjacent waters serve as wintering habitat for brant, scoters, 
American black duck, and other waterfowl.
    The refuge was established in 1972 under the name Salt Meadow NWR. 
It was re-designated by Congress as the Connecticut Coastal NWR in 
1984. The refuge was then renamed again in 1987 to honor the late U.S. 
Congressman Stewart B. McKinney, who was instrumental in the 
establishment of the refuge. Under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act 
(16 U.S.C. 715-715d, 715e, 715f-715r) of 1929, (45 Stat. 1222), the 
original unit was established, ``for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or 
any other management purposes, for migratory birds.'' The purposes of 
the refuge include: enhancing the populations of herons, egrets, terns, 
and other shore and wading birds within the refuge; encouraging natural 
diversity of fish and wildlife within the refuge; and providing 
opportunities for scientific research, environmental education, and 
fish and wildlife-dependent recreation.
    The 347-acre Salt Meadow Unit includes salt marsh and forested 
upland habitat in the Town of Westbrook. It provides roosting and 
courtship grounds for early successional birds such as American 
woodcock, breeding grounds for sharp-tailed sparrows, and migration and 
nesting areas for other passerines. The Faulkner Island Unit is a 5-
acre maritime island located off the coast of Guilford in Long Island 
Sound. It provides breeding habitat for over 100 pairs of the Federally 
endangered roseate tern, and is home to more than 3,500 pairs of common 
terns, a State species of concern. The Milford Point Unit is a 22-acre 
barrier beach peninsula located at the mouth of the Housatonic River in 
the Town of Milford. It is a breeding site for the Federally threatened 
piping plover. The 525-acre tidal marsh complex of the Great Meadows 
Unit is located on the Connecticut shoreline in the Town of Stratford. 
It provides foraging habitat for the Federally and State-threatened 
piping plover, and for the State-threatened least tern. Other Federally 
listed threatened and State-endangered or special concern species have 
been seen at Great Meadows, including the sharp-tailed sparrow, least 
bittern, pied-billed grebe, and bald eagle. Other island units include 
the 70-acre Chimon Island Unit, 57-acre Sheffield Island Unit, 1\1/2\-
acre Goose Island Unit, 3-acre Peach Island Unit, 31-acre Calf Island 
Unit, and 5-acre Outer Island Unit. These islands provide foraging 
habitat for large numbers of wading birds such as herons, egrets, and 
ibises, as well as migratory shorebirds and passerines. The small 
blocks of undeveloped salt marsh, grassland, and coastal forest on 
these islands provide thousands of birds with essential migratory and 
nesting habitat along the highly developed New England coast.
    The predominant public uses on refuge lands are wildlife 
observation and photography. There are walking trails and boardwalks, 
observation blinds and decks, and special use permits for island tours 
on remote island sites.

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. These 
include invasive species management, public use management consistent 
with protecting habitats, and sea level rise due to climate change.

Public Meetings

    We will give the public an opportunity to provide input at public 
meetings. Public meetings will be announced on our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/planning/Mckinney/ccphome.html. You can 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 
the 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: April 18, 2011.
Donna T. Stovall,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-14325 Filed 6-8-11; 8:45 am]