[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 57 (Thursday, March 24, 2011)]
[Pages 16634-16636]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-6907]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-R-2010-N272; 81683-1265-0000-S3]

Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge, Orange County, CA; Draft 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan/Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of a draft comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and 
environmental assessment (EA) for the Seal Beach National Wildlife 
Refuge for public review and comment. The CCP/EA, prepared under the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, and in 
accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 
describes how the Service will manage the Refuge for the next 15 years. 
Two step-down plans (an Integrated Pest Management Program and a 
Mosquito Management Plan), as well as draft compatibility 
determinations for several existing and proposed public uses, are also 
available for review and public comment.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by May 9, 2011.

[[Page 16635]]

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any 
of the following methods.
    E-mail: Victoria_Touchstone@fws.gov. Include ``Seal Beach CCP'' in 
the subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attn: Victoria Touchstone, Refuge Planner, (760) 930-0256.
    U.S. Mail: Victoria Touchstone, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, San 
Diego NWR Complex, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Suite 101, Carlsbad, CA 
    In-Person Drop-off: You may drop off comments during regular 
business hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Victoria Touchstone, Refuge Planner, 
at (760) 431-9440, extension 349, or Victoria_Touchstone@fws.gov; or 
Kirk Gilligan, Refuge Manager, at (562) 598-1024. Further information 
may also be found at http://www.fws.gov/sandiegorefuges/ (click on Seal 
Beach NWR CCP link in the refuge planning box at the upper left hand 
corner of the Web page).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), which amended the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, requires us 
to develop a CCP for each national wildlife refuge. The purpose in 
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, environmental education and interpretation.
    We initiated the CCP/EA for the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge 
in April 2007. At that time and throughout the process, we requested, 
considered, and incorporated public scoping comments in numerous ways. 
Our public outreach has included a Federal Register notice of intent 
published on April 16, 2007 (72 FR 190160), two scoping meetings, two 
planning updates, and a CCP Web page (http://www.fws.gov/sandiegorefuges; click on Seal Beach NWR CCP link). We received two 
scoping comments during the 30-day public comment period.


    Legislation authorizing the establishment of the Seal Beach NWR was 
signed by President Richard M. Nixon on August 29, 1972. The Refuge 
boundaries, which are located entirely within Naval Weapons Station 
Seal Beach, were determined by the Secretary of the Interior with the 
advice and consent of the Secretary of the Navy. In accordance with the 
authorizing legislation, the Refuge is to be managed pursuant to the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as amended, 
and pursuant to plans which are mutually acceptable to the Secretary of 
the Interior and the Secretary of the Navy. The Refuge was officially 
established on July 11, 1974, following approval of a general 
management plan for the Refuge by the Service and the Navy. Refuge 
purposes include preservation and management of habitat for endangered 
species (i.e., light-footed clapper rail and California least tern) and 
preservation of habitat to support migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and 
other water birds.
    The Refuge, which encompasses approximately 965 acres, includes one 
of the largest remaining salt marshes along the southern California 
coast. This coastal wetland supports three Federally listed species, 
including the endangered light-footed clapper rail, California least 
tern, and eastern Pacific green sea turtle. The State-listed endangered 
Belding's savannah sparrow, along with the light-footed clapper rail 
and California least tern, nest and raise their young within the 
boundaries of the Refuge. The security needs for Naval Weapons Station 
Seal Beach require that all public access onto the Refuge be limited to 
supervised visits, such as monthly public tours and other prescheduled 
group tours or events.


    The Draft CCP/EA identifies and evaluates three alternatives for 
managing the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge over the next 15 
years. The alternative that appears to best meet the Refuge purposes is 
identified as the preferred alternative. The preferred alternative has 
been identified based on the analysis presented in the Draft CCP/EA, 
which may be modified following the completion of the public comment 
period based on comments received from other agencies, Tribal 
governments, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals.
    Under Alternative A, the no-action alternative, we would continue 
to manage the Refuge as we have in the recent past. No changes in 
wildlife and habitat management or public use would occur.
    With Alternative B, current wildlife and habitat management 
activities would be expanded to include evaluation of current Refuge 
baseline data for fish, wildlife, and plants; identification of data 
gaps; implementation of species surveys to address data gaps as staff 
time and funding allow; restoration of native habitat; and support for 
new research projects that would benefit Refuge resources and Refuge 
management. Habitat restoration would focus on increasing salt marsh 
and intertidal mudflat habitat, with some restoration of wetland/upland 
transition habitat also proposed. Pest control would be implemented in 
accordance with an Integrated Pest Management Program, and mosquito 
monitoring and control would be guided by a Mosquito Management Plan. 
No changes to the current public-use program would occur.
    Alternative C, the preferred alternative, includes the majority of 
the management activities proposed in Alternative B. The primary 
differences between the two alternatives include a different focus on 
habitat restoration and expansion of the opportunities available for 
wildlife observation on the Refuge. Under Alternative C, the focus of 
the restoration effort would be on upland and wetland/upland transition 
habitat, with fewer acres restored to intertidal habitat.

Public Meetings

    The locations, dates, and times of public meetings will be listed 
in a planning update distributed to the project mailing list and posted 
on the refuge planning Web site at http://www.fws.gov/sandiegorefuges 
(click on the Seal Beach NWR CCP link).

Review and Comment

    Copies of the Draft CCP/EA may be obtained by writing to Victoria 
Touchstone (see ADDRESSES). Printed copies of the Draft CCP/EA may be 
viewed at the same address or at the Seal Beach/Mary Wilson Library, 
707 Electric Avenue, Seal Beach, CA 90740. The Draft CCP/EA has also 
been made available for review at http://www.fws.gov/sandiegorefuges 
(click on the Seal Beach NWR CCP link). Comments on the Draft CCP/EA 
should be addressed to Victoria Touchstone (see ADDRESSES).
    At the end of the review and comment period for this Draft CCP/EA, 
comments will be analyzed by the Service and addressed in the Final 
CCP. Before including your address, phone number,

[[Page 16636]]

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: March 16, 2011.
Ren Lohoefener,
Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 2011-6907 Filed 3-23-11; 8:45 am]