[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 204 (Monday, October 22, 2012)]
[Pages 64538-64540]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-25676]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-R-2012-N132: 1265-0000-10137 S3]

Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Washington and Yamhill 
Counties, OR, Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

[[Page 64539]]

ACTION: Notice of availability; announcement of meetings; request for 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of a draft comprehensive conservation plan and 
environmental assessment (Draft CCP/EA) for the Tualatin River National 
Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) for public review and comment. The Draft CCP/
EA describes our proposal for managing the Refuge for the next 15 

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
November 21, 2012. We will hold public meetings; see Public Meetings 
under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for dates, times, and locations.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments or request printed or CD-ROM copies 
of the Draft CCP/EA by any of the following methods.
    Email: TualatinCCP@fws.gov. Include ``Tualatin River NWR Draft CCP/
EA'' in the subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attn: Erin Holmes, Project Leader, (503) 625-5947 (phone).
    U.S. Mail: Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, 19255 SW 
Pacific Highway, Sherwood, OR 97140.
    In-Person Drop-Off, Viewing, or Pickup: To view or pick up a 
document at the Refuge, call the Refuge's staff at (503) 625-5944 
during regular business hours to make an appointment. Appointments are 
not needed to drop off comments. For more information on locations for 
viewing or obtaining documents, see ``Public Availability of 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Erin Holmes, Project Leader, (503) 
625-5944 (phone); erin_holmes@fws.gov (email).



    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for the Refuge. We 
started this process through a notice in the Federal Register (75 FR 
67763; November 3, 2010).

Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

    The Refuge's five units are located in the Tualatin River basin, 
near Portland, OR, and encompass a total of 7,370 acres of land within 
the Refuge's approved acquisition boundary. Of this, we have acquired 
approximately 2,165 acres of land in fee title or easements, which are 
managed as part of the Refuge. The Refuge's land acquisition program is 
ongoing. The Refuge was established in 1992 for the following purposes:
     ``The development, advancement, management, conservation, 
and protection of fish and wildlife resources * * *'' 16 U.S.C. 
     ``The benefit of the United States Fish and Wildlife 
Service, in performing its activities and services. Such acceptance may 
be subject to the terms of any restrictive or affirmative covenant, or 
condition of servitude * * *'' 16 U.S.C. 742f(b)(1), Fish and Wildlife 
Act of 1956; and
     ``The conservation of the wetlands of the Nation in order 
to maintain the public benefits they provide and to help fulfill 
international obligations contained in various migratory bird treaties 
and conventions * * *'' 16 U.S.C. 3901(b), Emergency Wetlands Resources 
Act of 1986.
    The Refuge protects fish and wildlife and their habitats, and 
provides a visitor center and wildlife-oriented recreation for nearly 
100,000 visitors annually. The Refuge's staff manages predominately 
flat bottomland bordered by uplands. Habitats include rivers and 
streams, seasonal, scrub-shrub, and riparian forests; and wet prairie, 
oak savanna, and mixed forested uplands. These habitats are home to 
nearly 200 species of birds, more than 50 species of mammals, 25 
species of reptiles and amphibians, and a variety of insects, fish, and 
plants. The Refuge provides wildlife-dependent recreation that includes 
wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and 


The CCP Process

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as 
amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 
(together referred to as the Refuge Administration Act), 16 U.S.C. 
668dd-668ee, 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 winter 2010 we began our planning process, by publishing a 
notice in the Federal Register (75 FR 67765, November 3, 2010) and 
distributing a news release. To familiarize the public with our 
planning process; the Refuge's purposes; and our fish, wildlife, and 
recreation resources, we also distributed Planning Update 1 and hosted 
public meetings. Planning Updates 2 and 3 were distributed in spring 
and fall of 2011, respectively; we summarized public scoping comments 
in Planning Update 2, and preliminary alternatives in Planning Update 
3. Our mailing list includes more than 800 recipients, representing 
Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies; elected officials; 
nongovernment organizations; businesses; learning institutions; media 
agencies; private landowners; and individual citizens. We continue to 
maintain CCP information on our Web site: www.fws.gov/tualatinriver/refugeplanning.htm. We are requesting comments on the Draft CCP/EA 
through this notice, a news release, Planning Update 4, public 
meetings, and our Web site.

Draft CCP/EA Alternatives We Are Considering

    We evaluated three alternatives for managing the Refuge for a 
period of 15 years in the Draft CCP/EA. Based on our analysis, 
Alternative 2 would best achieve the Refuge's purposes; therefore, it 
is our preferred alternative. We may modify Alternative 2 in the Final 
CCP/EA, to address comments we may receive on the Draft CCP/EA.

Alternative 1 (No Action Alternative)

    The Refuge would continue to acquire, restore, and conserve 
wetlands and other habitats for native fish and wildlife under 
Alternative 1. Providing wetlands for migratory birds, including 
wintering waterfowl, would remain our primary focus. Wetland basins 
would be mowed, disked, and/or treated with herbicides to mimic natural 
disturbance cycles, limit plant succession, and suppress invasive plant 
species. Prairie, oak savanna, and forest habitats would be restored by 
removing nonnative plants; planting native grasses, forbs, shrubs, and 
trees; and controlling weeds. The Refuge's high quality wildlife 
observation, photography, environmental education, and interpretation 
programs would continue. Visitation would likely increase over the next 
15 years;

[[Page 64540]]

however, staffing levels would not change.

Alternative 2 (Preferred Alternative)

    The Tualatin River and Rock Creek Units' riparian forest, scrub-
shrub wetland, and herbaceous wetland habitats would not substantially 
change under Alternative 2. Prescribed fire would be added for habitat 
management. In the upland area, we would restore mixed forest. We would 
no longer manipulate water to maintain a 30-acre herbaceous wetland on 
the Riverboat Unit, resulting in a wetland mixture of wet prairie and 
scrub-shrub. We would convert approximately 10 acres of riparian forest 
to wet prairie. At the Atf[aacute]lat'i Unit, the current channelized 
Chicken Creek would be restored to its historical footprint. The 
existing water diversion structure would be relocated to the east, 
allowing water management on approximately 155 acres of herbaceous 
wetland, 69 acres less than what is currently managed. We would 
recontour the ground surface and update water control structures to 
manage wetlands more effectively. The remaining acres would be 
converted to wet prairie, oak savanna, and scrub-shrub wetland. We 
would convert an additional 20 acres of seasonal wetlands and wet 
prairie in the northern portion of the Atf[aacute]lat'i Unit to 
floodplain riparian forest. If further land acquisition occurs at the 
Onion Flats Unit, we would convert cooperative farming areas into 
scrub-shrub wetland and oak savanna habitats. These changes could 
benefit dusky Canada geese and threatened Nelson's checkermallow 
plants. Rock Creek would be restored to its historical channel. 
Management of the Wapato Lake Unit would include a mixture of free-
flowing hydrology and intensive water control; however, we would 
transition to a more natural hydrology over the long term. A water 
management study of the Wapato Lake lakebed would help us identify 
needed restoration actions. Other actions would include restoring a 
mosaic of wetlands, riparian forests, oak savannas, prairies, and 
    The Refuge's existing visitor programs would remain under 
Alternative 2, with new opportunities, including up to three additional 
wildlife photography blinds, an environmental education study area, 
fishing from the River Overlook, and a nature exploration play area. 
Opportunities to connect to regional trails would be explored. A junior 
waterfowl hunt would occur on the Riverboat Unit. Opportunities for 
hunting, photography, fishing, wildlife observation, a nature trail, 
and interpretive exhibits would be explored at the Wapato Lake Unit, 
when an adequate land base is acquired, and habitat restoration 
decisions are made. In the near term, we would pursue environmental 
education and wildlife-dependent recreation opportunities in the 
community. Expanding the Refuge's habitat restoration and public use 
programs would require six additional positions, which we would pursue 
over the life of the CCP.

Alternative 3

    Under Alternative 3, riparian forest would be expanded from 330 
acres to approximately 390 acres on the Tualatin River Unit. The 
remainder of the unit would be mixed forest. Natural hydrologic flows 
would occur on the Refuge, with less water-level manipulation. At the 
Atf[aacute]lat'i Unit, 180 acres of emergent wetland would be converted 
to riparian forest and scrub-shrub wetlands. The oak savanna, emergent 
wetland, and wet prairie in the northeastern portion of the 
Atf[aacute]lat'i Unit would be converted to riparian forest. 
Cooperative farming would be phased out at the Onion Flats Unit, as 
scrub-shrub wetlands are restored. The surrounding upland areas would 
become mixed forest. At the Riverboat, Rock Creek, and Wapato Lake 
Units, management would be the same as Alternative 2. The Refuge's 
staff would continue to explore opportunities for connecting to 
regional trails. At the Wapato Lake Unit, opportunities for public use 
would be explored as an adequate land base and access are acquired, and 
habitat restoration decisions are made. In the near-term, we would 
pursue education and recreation activities in the community. Limited 
expansion of the environmental education and recreation programs would 
occur on the Sherwood Unit under Alternative 3. Improving the quality 
of existing public uses would be emphasized.

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to methods in ADDRESSES, you can obtain documents on 
our web site: www.fws.gov/tualatinriver/refugeplanning.htm; or at the 
following public libraries.

            Library                     Address             Phone No.
Sherwood Public Library.......  21901 SW Sherwood           503-625-6688
                                 Blvd., Sherwood, OR
Tigard Public Library.........  13500 SW Hall Blvd.,        503-684-6537
                                 Tigard, OR 97223.
Tualatin Public Library.......  18878 Southwest             503-691-3071
                                 Martinazzi, Tualatin,
                                 OR 97062.
Forest Grove Public Library...  2114 Pacific Avenue,        503-992-3247
                                 Forest Grove, OR
Beaverton Public Library......  12375 Southwest 5th         503-644-2197
                                 Street, Beaverton, OR

Public Meetings

    We will hold a public open house meeting during the public comment 
period. We will announce the open house date, time, and location in a 
news release, planning update, and on our Web site.

Next Steps

    After this comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and 
address them in our final CCP.

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

    Dated: June 26, 2012.
Hugh Morrison,
Acting Regional Director, Pacific Region, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2012-25676 Filed 10-19-12; 8:45 am]