[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 201 (Tuesday, October 18, 2011)]
[Pages 64375-64376]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-26934]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2011-N156; BAC-4311-K9-S3]

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, Genesee County and Orleans 
County, NY; Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Finding of No 
Significant Impact for Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


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) for the environmental 
assessment (EA) for Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge (NWR, refuge), 
Genesee County and Orleans County, New York. In this final CCP, we 
describe how we will manage this refuge for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: You may view or obtain copies of the final CCP and FONSI/EA 
by any of the following methods. You may request a hard copy or CD-ROM.
    Agency Web site: Download a copy of the documents at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/planning/Iroquois/ccphome.html.
    E-mail: northeastplanning@fws.gov. Include ``Iroquois NWR final 
CCP'' in the subject line of the message.
    U.S. Mail: Iroquois NWR, 1101 Casey Road, Basom, NY 14013.
    In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Call 585-948-5445 to make an 
appointment (necessary for view/pickup only) during regular business 
hours at above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas Roster, Project Leader, 585-
948-5445, or Thomas Bonetti, Planning Team Leader, 413-253-8307 
(phone); tom_bonetti@fws.gov (e-mail).



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Iroquois NWR in 
Basom, New York. We started this process through a notice in the  
Federal Register (73 FR 10279, February 26, 2008). We released the 
draft CCP and the EA to the public, announcing and requesting comments 
in a notice of availability in the Federal Register (75 FR 61171, 
October 4, 2010).
    Iroquois NWR was established in 1958 under 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). The 
refuge consists of more than 10,800 acres within the rural townships of 
Alabama and Shelby, New York, midway between Buffalo and Rochester. 
Freshwater marshes and hardwood swamps are bounded by forests, 
grasslands, and wet meadows. These areas serve the habitat needs of 
both migratory and resident wildlife, including waterfowl, songbirds, 
mammals, and amphibians, as well as numerous indigenous plant species.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the FONSI for the 
final CCP for Iroquois NWR 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 Iroquois NWR for the next 15 years.


    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 NWR. 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 Act.

CCP Alternatives, Including Selected Alternative

    Our draft CCP and our EA (75 FR 61171) addressed several issues. To 
address these, we developed and evaluated the following alternatives.
    Alternative A (Current Management): Alternative A continues 
existing programs and activities and serves as the baseline against 
which to compare the other alternatives. Under current management, we 
manage open water and emergent marsh impoundments, early successional 
habitat including grasslands, shrublands, and forest habitat including 
a conifer plantation. Under alternative A, we would continue to conduct 
furbearer management, monitor waterfowl during spring and fall 
migration, conduct landbird surveys, and manage for invasive species in 
the same manner as at present. We would maintain existing opportunities 
for visitors to engage in wildlife observation and photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation, as well as maintain 
existing hunting and fishing opportunities on the refuge. We would 
maintain existing infrastructure and buildings, and maintain current 
staffing levels.
    Alternative B (the Service-preferred alternative): This alternative 
focuses on enhancing the conservation of wildlife through habitat 
management, as well as providing additional visitor opportunities on 
the refuge. Alternative B incorporates existing management

[[Page 64376]]

activities and/or provides new initiatives or actions aimed at 
improving efficiency and progress towards refuge goals and objectives. 
Some of the major strategies proposed include increasing grassland, 
shrubland, and forest habitats, replacing non-native conifer plantation 
with native forest species, restricting public access to designated 
areas of the refuge year-round, and implementing a permit system for 
hunting upland game, migratory birds, and big game. This alternative 
would increase some existing wildlife-dependent recreational 
activities, including wildlife observation and hunting. We would co-
locate the Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office 
(LGLFWCO) with a new visitor contact station and administrative 
building by adding on to the existing building. If funds permit, we 
would expand our existing staff to include a full-time permanent law 
enforcement officer, maintenance worker, biological technician, and one 
part-time biological technician.
    Alternative C (Improved Biological Integrity): Alternative C 
prominently features additional management that aims to restore or 
mimic natural ecosystem processes or function to achieve refuge 
purposes. Under alternative C, refuge habitat conditions would change 
as a result of management decisions that target a more natural state 
and emphasize restoration to historical habitats. Refuge impoundments 
would no longer be actively managed and some would be removed. This 
would result in a decrease of 329 acres of open water and emergent 
marsh habitat. Grassland acres would be reduced by 50 percent as only 
the two largest grassland units would be managed. Management of 
shrublands would be discontinued, and the only shrub habitats that 
would remain are small native shrub swamps. Forest cover would increase 
(1,548 additional acres) under this alternative in response to the 
reversion, succession, and conversion of conifer plantations and other 
refuge habitats to forest. Similar to alternative B, we propose to 
restrict public access to designated areas of the refuge year-round, 
allowing wildlife observation, hiking, and walking on established 
refuge nature trails. Also, we propose to co-locate the LGLFWCO 
currently located in Amherst, New York, with a new visitor contact 
station and administration building at Iroquois NWR.


    We solicited comments on the draft CCP and the EA for Iroquois NWR 
via a Federal Register notice that was published on October 4, 2010 (75 
FR 61171). We received 37 comments, which we assessed during the 
content analysis process. Appendix I in the final CCP includes a 
summary of those comments, our responses to them, and additional 
rationale for any changes made.

Selected Alternative

    We have selected alternative B for implementation, with the 
following modifications:
     Due to comments directed at closing the refuge to 
wandering, we decided to allow visitors unrestricted access off 
designated trails, but only during the hunting season (October 1 to the 
end of February). All visitors, including those wandering on the 
refuge, must wear hunter orange during the firearm deer seasons. Hunter 
orange must be visible from 360 degrees and must be at least 400 square 
inches of solid fluorescent orange on head, chest, and back. There will 
be no wandering in any refuge wetlands, only upland wandering will be 
permitted. The refuge will continue to restrict public access for 
hiking and walking to designated trails from March 1 to September 30.
     Based on feedback we received from our partners and the 
public, we decided to modify the alternative B turkey hunting proposal. 
The new framework will consist of two seasons. The first season will 
run from May 1 to May 15 with 50 permits available. The second season 
will run from May 16 to May 31 with 25 permits available. Permits will 
be allocated on a lottery system basis with hunters choosing their 
desired season in order of preference. Hunters may receive a permit for 
one season only.
     The refuge also reconsidered its decision to not allow 
fall turkey hunting on the refuge. There will be no additional 
administrative burden on the refuge by having this season added to the 
refuge hunts.

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to any methods in ADDRESSES, you can view or obtain 
documents on our regional planning Web site: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/planning/.

    Dated: September 16, 2011.
Theresa E. Rabot,
Acting Regional Director, Northeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Hadley, Massachusetts.
[FR Doc. 2011-26934 Filed 10-17-11; 8:45 am]