[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 244 (Tuesday, December 20, 2011)]
[Pages 78940-78942]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-32589]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-R-2011-N090; FXRS12650100000S3-123-FF01R06000]

Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge, Blaine, Cassia, Minidoka, and 
Power Counties, ID; 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, intend to prepare a 
comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) for Minidoka National Wildlife 
Refuge. We will also prepare an environmental assessment (EA) to 
evaluate the potential effects of various CCP alternatives. We provide 
this notice in compliance with our CCP policy to advise the public, 
Federal and State agencies, and Tribes of our intentions, and to obtain 
public comments,

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suggestions, and information on the scope of issues to consider during 
the planning process.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
January 31, 2012. We will announce opportunities for public input in 
local news media throughout the CCP planning process.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any 
of the following methods.
    Email: jeffrey_krueger@fws.gov. Include ``Minidoka CCP/EA'' in the 
subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attn: Jeffrey Krueger, Refuge Manager, (208) 436-1570.
    U.S. Mail: Jeffrey Krueger, Refuge Manager, Minidoka National 
Wildlife Refuge, 961 E Minidoka Dam Road, Rupert, ID 83350-9471.
    In-Person Drop-off: You may drop off comments during regular 
business hours at 961 E Minidoka Dam Road, Rupert, ID 83350-9471.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeffrey Krueger, (208) 436-3589 



    With this notice, we initiate our process for developing a CCP for 
the Minidoka Refuge. 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 
EA and during development of the CCP.


The CCP Process

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act of 1997 (Refuge Administration Act), 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 that may be 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 of 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 insure 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 the Refuge.
    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.

Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge

    The Refuge was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1909 
for the purpose of serving as a refuge and breeding grounds for native 
birds. The Refuge is located 12 miles northeast of Rupert, ID, in the 
Snake River Plain, at approximately 4,200 feet in elevation. The area 
was historically comprised of a portion of the Snake River surrounded 
by an expansive sea of sagebrush, identified as the high desert. In 
1904 the Bureau of Reclamation impounded the Snake River and created 
Lake Walcott to store water for irrigation, and provide hydroelectric 
power. The Refuge is primarily an overlay refuge superimposed over 
Bureau of Reclamation lands and waters.
    The Refuge boundary extends upstream approximately 25 miles from 
the Minidoka Dam, along both shores of the Snake River. The Refuge 
encompasses approximately 20,700 acres; of that, 11,300 acres are the 
open waters of Lake Walcott and the Snake River, and 9,400 acres are 
upland sagebrush and grassland habitats. The large expanse of open 
water within the arid environment attracts numerous avian species, 
including waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds. The Service has 
documented 243 species of birds on the Refuge, of which 85 species are 
known to nest within the Refuge's boundaries.

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.
     What is the Refuge's role in conserving Snake River Plain 
wildlife and habitat?
     What are our options for preventing the introduction and 
dispersal of invasive plants and animals?
     What is the most appropriate Refuge land management 
strategy for providing contiguous and quality habitats for focal 
wildlife resources?
     How can we maintain, manage, and restore the Refuge's 
sagebrush, wetland, and upland habitats, to support the long-term 
viability of native wildlife populations, and maximize habitat values 
for key wildlife species?
     How can the Refuge adaptively manage habitat in response 
to the effects of climate change?
     How can we protect the Refuge's cultural and historical 
     What actions should we take to minimize disturbance to 
nesting and migrating waterbirds and other wildlife on the Refuge?
     How can we meet increasing demands for recreational 
opportunities on the Refuge, and conduct quality visitor services 
programs in a manner that protects wildlife from disturbances?

Public Meetings

    We will involve the public through open houses, informational and 
technical meetings, and written comments. We will release mailings, 
news releases, and announcements to provide information about 
opportunities for public involvement in the planning process.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email 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

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to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, 
we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

    Dated: October 28, 2011.
Richard R. Hannan,
Acting Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2011-32589 Filed 12-19-11; 8:45 am]