[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 47 (Thursday, March 10, 2011)]
[Pages 13205-13207]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-5450]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2010-N189; 40136-1265-0000-S3]

Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, Jones and Jasper Counties, GA; 
Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Finding of No Significant 
Impact for Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

[[Page 13206]]

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the 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 for Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). In the final 
CCP, we describe how we will manage this refuge for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: You may obtain a copy of the CCP by writing to: Ms. Carolyn 
Johnson, Piedmont NWR, 718 Juliette Road, Round Oak, GA 31038. The CCP 
may also be accessed and downloaded from the Service's Web site: http://southeast.fws.gov/planning/ under ``Final Documents.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Carolyn Johnson; telephone: 478/



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Piedmont NWR. We 
started this process through a notice in the Federal Register on April 
4, 2008 (73 FR 18552).
    Piedmont NWR was established in 1939 through an Executive Order of 
President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Other establishing authorities 
included the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, Bankhead-Jones Farm 
Tenant Act, and the Refuge Administration Act. The refuge was 
established as a ``combination wildlife and game-management 
demonstration area'' to demonstrate that wildlife could be restored on 
worn out, eroded lands. The refuge is primarily forested and provides 
habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and associated 
wildlife species of concern. Prescribed burning and timber thinning are 
used to ensure that quality pine habitat is maintained for red-cockaded 
woodpeckers, neotropical migratory songbirds, and other native 
wildlife. Hardwood stands provide excellent habitat for neotropical 
migratory songbirds, turkeys, squirrels, and other woodland wildlife.
    Compatibility determinations for hunting; fishing; environmental 
education and interpretation; wildlife observation and photography; 
boating; camping (associated with big game hunts, scouts, and other 
youth organizations only); firewood cutting; forest management; off-
road vehicles (confined to wheelchair for mobility only); research; 
training; and walking, jogging, and bicycling are available in the CCP.


    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, 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, wildlife photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation. We will review and update 
the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with the Administration 


    We made copies of the Draft CCP/EA available for a 30-day public 
review and comment period via a Federal Register on May 13, 2010 (75 FR 
26979). We received 16 comments on the Draft CCP/EA.

Selected Alternative

    The Draft CCP/EA identified and evaluated four alternatives for 
managing the refuge. After considering the comments we received and 
based on the professional judgment of the planning team, we selected 
Alternative B for implementation.
    Under Alternative B, we will place emphasis on restoring and 
improving resources needed for wildlife and habitat management and 
providing enhanced and compatible wildlife-dependent public use 
opportunities. We will continue to monitor and manage the red-cockaded 
woodpecker population, with a goal of an annual increase in population 
of 3 to 5 percent.
    We will increase wildlife surveys to include breeding birds, bald 
eagles, furbearers, resident birds, raptors, reptiles and amphibians. 
We will initiate basic inventories for fish species and invertebrates, 
including dragonflies, crayfish, and mussels. We will continue to 
collect quail, turkey, and deer data through managed hunts and surveys, 
and reinstate turkey brood counts. We will increase efforts to maintain 
a deer population of 30 to 35 deer per-square-mile, with a balanced sex 
    We will expand habitat management by modifying forest management 
strategies to benefit wildlife and habitat diversity. We will continue 
to maintain current fire management programs but intensify management 
of a 5,000-acre Piedmont savanna focus area, with smaller burn units on 
a 2-year rotation. We will prioritize the need for removal of invasive 
plants and animals and enhance wildlife openings and roadsides for 
early successional habitat diversity. For aquatic species, we will 
continue to implement Georgia's Best Management Practices for Forestry, 
but will also survey streams to identify species. We will continue to 
manage the impoundments as demonstration areas for waterfowl and 
implement a water management program to enhance habitat and wildlife 
    We will revise the current visitor services plan and update signs, 
brochures, exhibits, and Web sites. Kiosks and an automated phone 
system will be added. Opportunities for wildlife observation, wildlife 
photography, environmental education and interpretation, and outreach 
will be expanded. We will continue to maintain and where possible 
expand hunting and fishing opportunities. We will maintain our current 
law enforcement program and, in addition, revise the law enforcement 
plan and reinstate the law enforcement outreach program. We will 
document additional historic sites and update current GIS data to 
provide for better resource protection. We will evaluate the potential 
of expanding the refuge acquisition boundary to meet our goals and 
objectives in accordance with current Service policy. We will seek 
partnerships to monitor the impacts of climate change on refuge 
resources and adapt management as needed to conserve the native 
wildlife and habitats.
    Additional staff will be required to accomplish the goals of the 
CCP and support both Piedmont and Bond Swamp NWRs. This will include 
reinstating an assistant forester and an interpretive park ranger and 
adding the following: Biologist, forestry technician, park ranger (law 
enforcement), refuge operations specialist, prescribed fire/fuels 
technician, engineering equipment operator, and two seasonal forestry 
technicians (firefighters). We will continue to promote partnerships 
and work with adjacent private landowners to support our goals and 
objectives. We will expand our volunteer program to include more 
resident interns.


    This notice is published under the authority of the National 

[[Page 13207]]

Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, Public Law 105-57.

    Dated: September 22, 2010.
Mark J. Musaus,
Acting Regional Director.

    Editorial Note: This document was received in the Office of the 
Federal Register on March 7, 2011.
[FR Doc. 2011-5450 Filed 3-9-11; 8:45 am]