[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 190 (Monday, October 1, 2012)]
[Pages 59962-59963]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-24046]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2012-N145; BAC-4311-K9-S3]

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, DE and 
Philadelphia Counties, PA; Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan and 
Finding of No Significant Impact

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of the final comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and 
finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for John Heinz National 
Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum (John Heinz NWR, refuge) in Delaware and 
Philadelphia Counties, Pennsylvania. In this final CCP, we describe how 
we will manage the refuge for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: You may view or obtain copies of the final CCP and FONSI by 
any of the following methods. You may request a hard copy or a CD-ROM.
    Agency Web site: Download a copy of the document at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/planning/John%20Heinz/ccphome.html.
    Email: Send requests to northeastplanning@fws.gov. Include ``John 
Heinz NWR Final CCP'' in the subject line of your email.
    Mail: Lia McLaughlin, Natural Resource Planner, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035.
    Fax: Attention: Lia McLaughlin, 413-253-8468.
    In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Call (215) 365-3118 to make an 
appointment (necessary for view/pickup only) during regular business 
hours at 8601 Lindbergh Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19153.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gary Stolz, Refuge Manager, phone: 
(215) 365-3118, or Lia McLaughlin, Planning Team Leader, phone: 413-
253-8575; email: northeastplanning@fws.gov.



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for John Heinz NWR. 
We started this process through a notice of intent in the Federal 
Register (75 FR 25285) on May 7, 2010. We released the draft CCP/
environmental assessment (EA) to the public, announcing and requesting 
comments in a notice of availability in the Federal Register (77 FR 
16854) on March 22, 2012.
    The refuge was established in 1972 to preserve and restore the 
natural area known as Tinicum Marsh, to promote environmental 
education, and to afford visitors an opportunity to study wildlife in 
its natural habitat. It is located in Delaware and Philadelphia 
Counties, along the Delaware River, in southeastern Pennsylvania. 
Currently, the refuge includes 993 acres of freshwater tidal marsh, 
open water, grassland, and forest habitat. It is an important migratory 
stopover for birds along the Atlantic Flyway, and provides habitat for 
State-listed threatened and endangered species such as the eastern 
redbelly turtle (Pseudemys rubriventris). The refuge also offers unique 
opportunities for environmental education and interpretation in an 
urban setting.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the Finding of No 
Significant Impact (FONSI) for the final CCP for John Heinz NWR in 
accordance with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 
4321 et seq.) requirements. We completed a thorough analysis of impacts 
on the human environment, which we included in the draft CCP/EA.
    The CCP will guide us in managing and administering John Heinz NWR 
for the next 15 years. Alternative B, as described for the refuge in 
the draft CCP/EA, and with the modifications described below, is the 
foundation for the final 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 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 
(NWRS), 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

[[Page 59963]]

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 

CCP Alternatives, Including the Selected Alternative

    Our draft CCP/EA addressed several key issues. To address these 
issues and develop a plan based on the refuge's establishing purposes, 
vision, and goals, we evaluated three alternatives for John Heinz NWR 
in the draft CCP/EA. The draft CCP/EA describes each alternative in 
detail and relates them to the issues and concerns that arose during 
the planning process. Below, we provide summaries for the three John 
Heinz NWR alternatives evaluated in the draft CCP/EA.

Management Alternatives

Alternative A (Current Management)
    Alternative A (current management) satisfies the National 
Environmental Policy Act (40 CFR 1506.6(b)) requirement of a ``No 
Action'' alternative, which we define as ``continuing current 
management.'' It describes our existing management priorities and 
activities, and serves as a baseline for comparing and contrasting 
alternatives B and C. It would maintain our present levels of approved 
refuge staffing and the biological and visitor programs now in place. 
We would continue to focus on providing native tidal marsh habitat for 
migrating and nesting wading birds; wintering marshbirds, waterfowl, 
and shorebirds; and other wildlife. We would also continue to actively 
control invasive species, manage grassland habitats, and maintain dikes 
and water levels in the impoundment. Our environmental education 
program would continue to focus on providing training for teachers so 
they could guide field trips on refuge property.
Alternative B (Focus on Environmental Education for Urban Youth)
    This is the Service-preferred alternative. It combines the actions 
we believe would best achieve the refuge's purposes, vision, and goals, 
and the intent of NWRS policy on Biological Integrity, Diversity, and 
Environmental Health (601 FW 3). This alternative would also best 
respond to the issues that arose during the planning process.
    Under alternative B, we would expand our freshwater tidal marsh 
restoration efforts, implement additional forest habitat restoration 
and management efforts, and increase monitoring efforts for species and 
for climate change effects. Our environmental education program would 
focus on expanding staff-led and volunteer-led programs for urban 
youth. We would also develop environmental education programs that 
focus on this audience, and work to develop long-term relationships 
with schools and school districts. We would work to expand 
environmental interpretation opportunities and infrastructure on the 
refuge as well.
Alternative C
    Alternative C would focus on restoring degraded forests and 
converting specific grassland areas to shrubland habitat. As in 
alternative B, we would emphasize invasive species management, 
freshwater tidal marsh restoration, and monitoring for climate change 
adaptation. However, under alternative C, we would delay much of these 
efforts to more fully assess the potential effects of climate change 
and propose restoring all of the impoundment to tidal marsh. Under 
alternative C, environmental educational programming would concentrate 
on providing high school and college-level programs focused on 
encouraging and training the next generation of conservation 
professionals and environmentally concerned citizens. We would also 
focus on playing a more regional role in conservation efforts.


    We solicited comments on the draft CCP/EA for John Heinz NWR from 
March 22 to April 23, 2012 (77 FR 16854). During the comment period, we 
received 19 sets of responses including comments from public meetings, 
a phone call, electronic mail, and letters. We evaluated all of the 
substantive comments we received, and include a summary of those 
comments, and our responses to them, as appendix K in the final CCP.

Selected Alternative

    We have selected alternative B for implementation, with the 
following modifications:
     We highlighted that we will be working closely with the 
Philadelphia International Airport to assess any wildlife hazards prior 
to implementing any wetland restoration under objective 1.1 in chapter 
     We incorporated updated information on species provided by 
the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission into section 3.3 of chapter 3 
and section 2.5 of appendix C.
     We added the following strategy to objective 2.1 in 
chapter 4: ``Work with partners to identify and obtain resources to 
replace the water control system in the impoundment.''
     We modified the bicycling compatibility determination in 
appendix B to open one additional trail to bicycling.
     We corrected all format and typographical errors that were 
brought to our attention.
    We have selected alternative B to implement for John Heinz NWR, 
with these minor changes, for several reasons. Alternative B comprises 
a mix of actions that, in our professional judgment, work best towards 
achieving the refuge's purposes, vision, and goals, NWRS policies, and 
the goals of other State and regional conservation plans. We also 
believe that alternative B most effectively addresses key issues raised 
during the planning process. The basis of our decision is detailed in 
the FONSI (appendix L in the final CCP).

Public Availability of Documents

    You can view or obtain the final CCP, including the FONSI, as 
indicated under ADDRESSES.

    Dated: August 27, 2012.
Deborah Rocque,
Acting Regional Director, Northeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2012-24046 Filed 9-28-12; 8:45 a.m.]