[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 119 (Tuesday, June 21, 2011)]
[Pages 36143-36145]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-15356]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2010-N244; BAC-4311-K9-S3]

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Kent County, DE; 
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 associated 
environmental assessment (EA) for Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge 
(BHNWR). 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.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
September 1, 2011. Submit comments by one of the methods listed under 
ADDRESSES. We will announce opportunities for public input in local 
news media throughout the CCP process.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information on the 
planning process by any of the following methods.
    E-mail: northeastplanning@fws.gov. Include ``Bombay Hook NWR'' in 
the subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attn: Thomas Bonetti, 413-253-8468.
    U.S. Mail: Thomas Bonetti, 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, or at Bombay Hook National 
Wildlife Refuge, 2591 Whitehall Neck Road, Smyrna, DE 19977. Please 
call 302-653-9345 for directions.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Stroeh, Project Leader, Bombay 
Hook National Wildlife Refuge, 2591 Whitehall Neck Road, Smyrna, DE 
19977; 302-653-9345 (phone); 302-653-0684 (fax); FW5_BHNWR@fws.gov (e-
mail) or Web site: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/bombayhook/.



    With this notice, we initiate the process for developing a CCP for 
BHNWR, located in Kent County, Delaware. 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

[[Page 36144]]

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.
    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, local government 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 BHNWR.
    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.

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

    Under Executive Order (EO) 7643, dated June 22, 1937, BHNWR was 
established ``* * * as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds 
and other wildlife. * * *'' Two other authorities supported additional 
land protection: 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) and the General Services 
Administration. Transfer Authority for ``* * * carrying out the 
national migratory bird management program'' (16 U.S.C. 667b).
    The refuge currently encompasses 16,251 acres, located in Kent 
County, Delaware. Comprised of 80 percent tidal salt marsh, it also 
includes 1,100 acres of impounded freshwater pools, brushy and timbered 
swamps, and timbered and grassy upland. The refuge's location along the 
Atlantic Flyway makes it a vital resting and feeding spot for a large 
number and diversity of birds.
    Popular attractions within the refuge include a wide array of 
habitats for wildlife observation and photography, the 12-mile auto 
tour route, and five nature trails, including Bear Swamp Boardwalk and 
Trails that are handicap accessible. The refuge also provides other 
wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities such as hunting deer, 
turkey, small game, and waterfowl, and has an established environmental 
education program. The historic circa-1753 Allee House is located on 
the refuge and requires restoration before it can be re-opened to the 

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.

Climate Change and Interior Marsh Loss

    A growing body of evidence indicates that accelerating climate 
change, associated with increasing global temperatures, is affecting 
water, land, and wildlife resources. Along the Delaware Bay, rising sea 
levels have begun to affect fish and wildlife habitats, including those 
used by waterfowl, wading birds, and shorebirds on our national 
wildlife refuges. Interior marsh loss is occurring at a rate of 
approximately 58 acres per year at the refuge, and this important 
habitat is primarily converting to open water. Successful conservation 
strategies will require an understanding of climate change and the 
ability to predict how those changes will affect fish and wildlife at 
multiple scales.

Mosquito Control

    Balancing the needs of wildlife and people is becoming more 
difficult as residential developments encroach upon wild areas and more 
visitors participate in wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities 
on the refuge. Providing quality habitat in sufficient quantities for 
an increasing number of species and individuals is challenging to 
wildlife managers and biologists. Mosquitoes are a part of the natural 
environment and a food source for a variety of wildlife. More 
importantly, insecticides, in particular adulticides that are used to 
control mosquitoes, kill non-target insects that are utilized by fish, 
amphibians, and migratory birds as important food sources. BHNWR will 
continue to work with the State's Mosquito Control Section related to 
mosquito control on the refuge while striving to protect the biological 
integrity, diversity, and environmental health of the refuge.

Allee House

    The Allee House at BHNWR stands today, as it did in the 18th 
century, overlooking the fields and marshes of Kent County. The 
original restoration of the Allee House was completed in 1966, and in 
1971, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 
Allee House is in need of major repairs, and is closed to visitors 
until further notice. A Comprehensive Condition Assessment and 
Preventive Maintenance Plan were completed in 2010. The work required 
to properly protect and restore the house to historical standards is 
extensive and costly and is estimated at a cost of $1,000,000.


    Cooperative farming has been utilized on the refuge since its 
establishment. Farming is still considered a viable wildlife management 
tool, but the role of the farming program has changed over the years. 
BHNWR suspended the cooperative farming program in January 2010 because 
the NEPA documentation was not completed. Subsequently, a complaint was 
filed in Federal court in March 2010 to cease cooperative farming on 
the refuge. We will evaluate the farming program and its support of our 
conservation priorities in the CCP process.


    On the Delmarva Peninsula, hunting is a traditional outdoor pastime 
that is deeply rooted in American and Delaware heritage. Opportunities 
for public hunting are decreasing with increasing private land 
development. Refuge lands thus become increasingly important in the 
region as a place to engage in this activity. Hunting will continue to 
be an integral component of the public use program at the refuge. The 
Service Manual (605 FW 2) states that hunting programs must provide 
quality experiences for the public, be compatible with the mission of 
the NWRS and the purposes of the refuge, and, to the extent 
practicable, be consistent with State fish and wildlife laws and 
regulations. In scoping for the CCP, we invite suggestions on how to 
improve the current hunting program.

[[Page 36145]]

Public Meetings

    We will give the public an opportunity to provide input at public 
meetings. You can obtain the schedule from the refuge manager or 
planning team leader (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). We will 
also announce public meetings in the local news media. 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: May 19, 2011.
Wendi Weber,
Acting Regional Director, Region 5, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge, 
Hadley, MA 01035.
[FR Doc. 2011-15356 Filed 6-20-11; 8:45 am]