[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 153 (Wednesday, August 8, 2012)]
[Pages 47433-47435]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-19394]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2012-N125; BAC-4311-K9-S3]

Presquile National Wildlife Refuge, Chesterfield County, VA; 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and 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 Presquile National Wildlife Refuge 
(NWR) for public review and comment. Presquile NWR is located in 
Chesterfield County, Virginia, and is administered by staff at Eastern 
Virginia Rivers NWR Complex. The draft CCP/EA describes two 
alternatives for managing Presquile NWR for the next 15 years. 
Alternative B is identified as the Service-preferred alternative. Also 
available for public review and comment are the draft compatibility 
determinations, which are included as appendix B in the draft CCP/EA.

DATES: To ensure consideration of your written comments, please send 
them by September 7, 2012. We will also hold public meetings. We will 
announce those meetings and other opportunities for public input in 
local news media, via our project mailing list, and on the refuge 
planning Web site: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/presquile/refuge_planning.html.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments or requests for copies or more 
information by any of the following methods. You may request hard 
copies or a CD-ROM of the documents.
    Email: EasternVirginiaRiversNWRC@fws.gov. Please include 
``Presquile CCP'' in the subject line of the message.
    U.S. Mail: Meghan Carfioli, Natural Resource Planner, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 11116 Kimages Road, Charles City, VA 23030.
    Fax: Attention: Meghan Carfioli, 804-829-9606.
    In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call Meghan Carfioli at 
804-829-5413, or Andy Hofmann, Refuge Manager, at 804-333-1470 
extension 112 during regular business hours to make an appointment to 
view the document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Meghan Carfioli, Natural Resource 
Planner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; mailing address: 11116 Kimages 
Road, Charles City, VA 23030; 804-829-5413 (phone); 804-829-9606 (fax); 
EasternVirginiaRiversNWRC@fws.gov (email) (please put ``Presquile NWR'' 
in the subject line).



    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Presquile NWR. We 
published our original notice of intent to prepare a CCP in the Federal 
Register on April 14, 2011 (76 FR 21001).
    The 1,329-acre Presquile NWR is an island in the James River near 
Hopewell, Virginia, 20 miles southeast of Richmond. It was established 
in 1953 as ``an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management 
purpose, for migratory birds.'' It is one of many important migratory 
bird stopover sites along the Atlantic Flyway and provides protected 
breeding habitat for Federal and State-listed threatened and endangered 
species, as well as many neotropical migrant bird species. The refuge 
is comprised of a variety of wildlife habitats, including the open 
waters of the James River, tidal swamp forest, tidal freshwater 
marshes, grasslands, mixed mesic forest, and river escarpment.

[[Page 47434]]

    Presquile NWR also offers a wide range of wildlife-dependent 
recreational opportunities, including environmental education programs 
for approximately 120 school-aged students each year and a 3-day deer 
hunt each fall.


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.

Public Outreach

    In March 2011, we distributed a planning newsletter to over 160 
parties on our project mailing list. The newsletter informed people 
about the planning process and asked recipients to contact us about 
issues or concerns they would like us to address. We also posted the 
newsletter on our Web site for people to access electronically. In 
addition, we notified the general public of our planning project, and 
our interest in hearing about issues and concerns, by publishing news 
releases in local newspapers. We also held afternoon and evening public 
scoping meetings on April 19, 2011, in Chester, Virginia, and an 
evening meeting on April 20, 2011, in Richmond, Virginia. The purpose 
of the three meetings was to share information on the planning process 
and to solicit management issues and concerns. Throughout the process, 
refuge staff have conducted additional outreach via participation in 
community meetings, events, and other public forums. We have considered 
and evaluated all of the comments we received and addressed them in 
various ways in the alternatives presented in the draft CCP/EA.

CCP Alternatives We Are Considering

    During the scoping process, which initiated work on our draft CCP/
EA, we, other governmental partners, and the public raised the 
following general issues that are further detailed and addressed in the 
draft CCP/EA:
     How will the refuge respond to potential impacts of 
climate change on existing refuge habitats?
     How will the refuge improve its biological integrity in 
light of landscape-level ecological concerns such as biological 
connectivity with other nearby habitats or impacts from air and noise 
pollution from surrounding industry?
     How will the refuge address erosion and sediment 
deposition issues on and adjacent to the refuge?
     How will the refuge manage invasive, nonnative, and 
overabundant species?
     What will the refuge do to manage approximately 200 acres 
of grassland habitat?
     To what extent would the refuge interpret or educate the 
public about cultural resources, historical landscapes, and American 
Indian history and culture on or around the refuge?
     What will the refuge do to improve its environmental 
education, interpretation, wildlife-dependent recreation, and 
compatible public uses?
     How does the refuge plan to accommodate an increase in 
visitor population while maintaining protection of sensitive fish and 
wildlife resources?
     To what extent will the Service use partnerships with area 
agencies, businesses, and organizations to achieve the refuge's 
resource conservation and visitation goals?
     At what levels does the Service plan to continue staffing 
and management of the refuge?
    We developed two management alternatives in the draft CCP/EA for 
Presquile NWR to address these issues and to achieve the refuge's 
establishment purposes, and the vision and goals we developed. The 
alternatives identify several actions in common. Both alternatives 
include measures to continue to share staff across the Eastern Virginia 
Rivers NWR Complex, require a permit for refuge access, maintain 
existing facilities, control invasive species, protect cultural 
resources, monitor for climate change impacts, distribute refuge 
revenue sharing payments, support research on the refuge, and 
participate in conservation and education partnerships. There are other 
actions that differ among the alternatives. The draft CCP/EA provides a 
full description of both alternatives and relates each to the issues 
and concerns that arose during the planning process. Below, we provide 
summaries for the two alternatives.

Presquile NWR Alternatives

Alternative A (Current Management)
    This alternative is the ``no action'' alternative required by the 
National Environmental Policy Act. Alternative A defines our current 
management activities, including those planned, funded, or underway, 
and serves as the baseline against which to compare alternative B. 
Under alternative A, we would continue to protect tidal swamp forest 
and marsh habitats for priority refuge resources of concern on the 
refuge, such as the bald eagle, prothonotary warbler, American black 
duck and other waterfowl, and the federally threatened sensitive joint-
vetch. We would accomplish this through continued partnerships with 
universities and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 
and by limiting public access in sensitive areas. For James River 
aquatic resources, we would continue to improve riparian habitat, work 
with the James River Association (JRA) on water quality monitoring, and 
support efforts by Virginia Commonwealth University and other partners 
to restore sustainable, healthy populations of the federally endangered 
Atlantic sturgeon. We would also continue to maintain approximately 200 
acres of grassland habitat for breeding and migrating songbirds.
    Additionally, we would continue to provide environmental education 
programs both on- and off-refuge in partnership with the JRA, support 
wildlife-dependent recreation, and implement the 3-day fall deer hunt.
Alternative B (Focus on Species of Conservation Concern; Service-
preferred Alternative)
    Alternative B is the Service-preferred alternative. It combines the 
actions we believe would best achieve the refuge's purposes, vision, 
and goals and respond to public issues. Under alternative B, we would 
emphasize the management of specific refuge habitats to support 
priority species whose habitat needs would benefit other species of 
conservation concern that are found in the area. Species of 
conservation concern include migrating waterfowl, waterbirds, and 
forest-dependent birds, the federally endangered Atlantic sturgeon, and 
the federally threatened

[[Page 47435]]

sensitive joint-vetch. We would emphasize maintaining and restoring the 
forest integrity of tidal freshwater marsh, tidal swamp forest, the 
James River and associated backwater habitats, and mature mixed mesic 
forest habitats through increased monitoring and data collection, and a 
more aggressive response to habitat changes associated with invasive 
species, global climate change, or storm events. We would also convert 
200 acres of grassland habitat to transitional mixed mesic forest 
    This alternative would enhance our visitor services programs to 
improve opportunities for environmental education and wildlife-
dependent recreation. The improvements would include expanding the on-
refuge environmental education program through a partnership with the 
JRA and enhancing interpretive materials. We would also evaluate 
opportunities to expand the hunting program to include turkey hunting, 
a 5-day hunt for deer, and a youth deer or turkey hunt.
    We would also expand our conservation, research, monitoring, and 
management partnerships to help restore and conserve the refuge.

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to any methods in ADDRESSES, you can view or obtain 
documents from the agency Web site at: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/presquile/refuge_planning.html.

Next Steps

    After this comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and 
address them in the form of a final CCP and finding of no significant 

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comments, 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: July 17, 2012.
Henry Chang,
Acting Regional Director, Northeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2012-19394 Filed 8-7-12; 8:45 am]