[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 134 (Wednesday, July 13, 2011)]
[Pages 41284-41286]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-17423]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-R-2011-N089; 1265-0000-10137-S3]

Cold Springs and McKay Creek National Wildlife Refuges, Umatilla 
County, OR; Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental 

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 Cold Springs and McKay Creek National Wildlife 
Refuges, located in Umatilla County, Oregon. 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, please provide your written comments by 
August 12, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any 
of the following methods:
     E-mail: mcriver@fws.gov. Include ``Cold Springs and McKay 
Creek NWRs CCP'' in the subject line of the message.
     Fax: Attn: Lamont Glass, Refuge Manager, (509) 546-8303.
     U.S. Mail: Mid Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge 
Complex, Cold Springs and McKay Creek CCP, 64 Maple Street, Burbank, WA 
     In-Person Drop-off: You may drop off comments during 
regular business hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lamont Glass, Refuge Manager, Cold 
Springs and McKay Creek National Wildlife Refuges, (509) 546-8313 
(phone), lamont_glass@fws.gov (e-mail).



    With this notice, we initiate our process for developing a CCP for 
Cold Springs and McKay Creek National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs), in 
Umatilla County, Oregon. This notice complies with our CCP policy to 
(1) Advise other Federal and State agencies, Tribes, and

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the public of our intention to conduct detailed planning on these 
refuges 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) (Refuge 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 Refuge 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 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 National Wildlife Refuge System.
    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 Cold Springs and McKay 
Creek NWRs.
    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.

Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge

    Cold Springs NWR covers 3,117 acres of rich and diverse wetland 
habitats, surrounded by upland habitat of big sagebrush and native 
steppe grasses. Cold Springs NWR was created by President Theodore 
Roosevelt on February 25, 1909, as ``preserves and breeding grounds for 
native birds'' and ``for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any 
other management purpose, for migratory birds.'' It overlays Cold 
Springs Reservoir, a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) storage facility, 
the primary source of irrigation water for local agriculture. The 
Service manages the lands, whereas the reservoir's water levels are 
regulated by the BOR. Full pool occurs in May with 1,550 acres of open 
water. By late August, an average of only 200 acres of water remain.
    A mix of several distinct habitat types--open water, riparian, 
shrub-steppe upland, and seasonal wetlands--attracts a variety of 
wildlife to the refuge. The open water habitat of the reservoir 
provides isolation for the resting needs of migrating waterfowl. Large 
numbers of waterfowl, primarily Canada geese and mallards, can be seen 
on the open water in winter. They move between the reservoir and the 
river daily, looking for food or quiet space.
    Dense, wide stands of cottonwoods and willows represent the 
riparian zones on Cold Springs NWR. The area where water meets the land 
is especially important as it offers wildlife food and shelter choices. 
The thick underbrush provides excellent habitat for many species of 
songbirds and is a good place to look for deer, elk, and other animals 
feeding or resting.
    The shrub-steppe upland consists of sagebrush, bitterbrush, 
rabbitbrush, and native bunchgrasses. Mule deer, coyote, badger, ring-
necked pheasant, California quail, and the small resident elk herd can 
be seen using the uplands throughout the year. Swainson's, Cooper's, 
and red-tailed hawks and American kestrels may be seen soaring over the 

McKay Creek National Wildlife Refuge

    McKay Creek NWR covers 1,837 acres nestled between the plains and 
the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon. The refuge was established by 
President Calvin Coolidge on June 7, 1929, as ``a refuge and breeding 
ground for birds * * * subject to the use * * * for grazing, and to any 
other valid existing rights.'' It overlays the McKay Creek Reservoir, a 
BOR storage facility, serving the irrigation needs of the Umatilla 
River Basin. The Service manages the lands, whereas the water levels 
are regulated by the BOR. At full pool the refuge consists of 1,300 
acres of water and 537 acres of upland habitat. By late September, an 
average of 250 acres of water remains at minimum pool.
    The refuge serves as a recreational destination for residents of 
nearby Pendleton, Oregon, receiving over 50,000 visitors annually. The 
majority of visitors engage in fishing. Upland bird hunting is also 
popular, with many area hunters taking part in the annual pursuit of 
pheasant and quail. Other visitors simply enjoy bird watching, wildlife 
photography, or nature.
    The mix of several distinct habitat types, including open water, 
riparian, and upland grasslands, along with the lack of other local 
wetland habitats, elevates the importance of this refuge as a home to a 
variety of wildlife and plant species. Aquatic habitats and open water 
serve as resting and feeding grounds for wintering waterfowl, wading 
birds, and migrating shorebirds. During peak winter migration, the 
refuge historically supported large numbers of waterfowl. Mallards and 
Canada geese comprise the majority of waterfowl, while American wigeon, 
green-winged teal, and pintail account for smaller numbers.
    Thick stands of willow and cottonwood represent the riparian zone--
the areas on the refuge where land meets water, which are especially 
important to wildlife as they offers a variety of food and shelter. 
Osprey nest in the cottonwoods, and bald eagles frequent the area in 
fall and winter. The thick underbrush provides excellent habitat for 
many species of songbirds, like yellow warblers and song sparrows, and 
is a good place for deer and small animals to feed and rest. During the 
late summer drawdown, migrating shorebirds can be seen probing the 
exposed mudflats in search of high energy foods, while colonial nesting 
birds, like great blue herons and egrets, stand still, waiting for 
    The surrounding upland grassland community comprises the remaining 
refuge habitat and consists of a mix of grasses and forbs, including 
wheatgrass and fescues. A variety of wildlife species can be seen using 
the uplands throughout the year: ring-necked pheasant, quail, mule 
deer, songbirds, and hawks.

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Scoping: Preliminary Issues, Concerns, and Opportunities

    We have identified preliminary issues, concerns, and opportunities 
for the refuges that we may address in the CCP. We have briefly 
summarized these issues below. During public scoping, we may identify 
additional issues.

Cold Springs NWR and McKay Creek NWR

    The decline of waterfowl use at the refuges; management of wetland 
habitats to best benefit waterfowl and other wildlife species; 
management for long-term viability of riparian habitat; providing 
benefits to shrub-steppe or grassland obligate species; management of 
non-wildlife-oriented recreational activities given the increasing 
visitation at the refuges; increasing the understanding of the natural 
and cultural resources of the refuges; control of invasive and non-
native species; determining if big game hunting is a viable public use 
at either or both refuges; effective law enforcement; the impacts of 
climate change and increasing development; monitoring and control of 
mosquitoes and related human health hazards.

Public Comments

    Opportunities for the public to provide input will be announced in 
press releases, planning updates, and on our Web sites at http://www.fws.gov/mcriver, http://www.fws.gov/coldsprings/management.html, 
and http://www.fws.gov/mckaycreek/management.html. There will be 
additional opportunities to provide public input throughout the 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: June 17, 2011.
Richard R. Hannan,
Acting Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2011-17423 Filed 7-12-11; 8:45 am]