[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 204 (Monday, October 22, 2012)]
[Pages 64541-64543]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-25942]

[[Page 64541]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R2-R-2012-N142; FXRS12610200000S3-123-FF02R06000]

Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, Liberty County, TX; Final 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Finding of No Significant Impact 
for Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. 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 (EA) for the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge 
(Refuge). In this final CCP, we describe how we will manage this Refuge 
for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: You may view or obtain copies of the final CCP and FONSI/EA 
by any of the following methods. You may request a hard copy or CD-ROM.
    Agency Web Site: Download a copy of the documents at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/Plan/planindex.html.
    Email: Joseph_Lujan@fws.gov. Include ``Trinity River NWR final 
CCP'' in the subject line of the message.
    Mail: Joseph R. Lujan, Natural Resource Planner, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Division of Planning, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 
    In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Call 505-248-7458 to make an 
appointment during regular business hours at 500 Gold Avenue SW., 
Albuquerque, NM 87102 or the Trinity River NWR Headquarters, 601 FM 
1011, Liberty, TX 77575; phone: 936-336-9786.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stuart Marcus, Refuge Manager, Trinity 
River NWR, CCP Project, P.O. Box 10015, Liberty, TX 77575; 936- 336-
9786 phone; or 936-336-9847 fax.



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Trinity River 
NWR. We started this process through a notice in the Federal Register 
(72 FR 45059; August 10, 2007). We released the draft CCP and the EA to 
the public, announcing and requesting comments in a notice of 
availability in the Federal Register (77 FR 18853-18856; March 28, 
    The Trinity River NWR, which consists of over 25,000 acres, is 
located approximately 50 miles northeast of Houston, and 40 miles west 
of Beaumont Texas. The primary purpose of the Refuge is to protect a 
remnant of the bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem along the Trinity 
River. The Refuge was officially established on January 4, 1994, and 
continues to acquire, restore, and preserve bottomland hardwood 
    We announce our decision and the availability of the FONSI for the 
final CCP for Trinity River NWR in accordance with National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (40 CFR 1506.6(b)) requirements. We 
completed a thorough analysis of impacts on the human environment, 
which we included in the EA that accompanied the draft CCP.
    The CCP will guide us in managing and administering Trinity River 
NWR for the next 15 years. Alternative C, as we described in the final 
CCP, is the foundation for the CCP.


    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.

CCP Alternatives, Including Selected Alternative

    Our draft CCP/EA (77 FR 18853; March 28, 2012) addressed several 
issues. To address these, we developed and evaluated the following 

                                                                                            C--Optimal habitat
                                             A--No-Action         B--Improved habitat     management and public
             Alternatives               alternative  (Current    management and public    use (Proposed action)
                                              practices)            use alternative            alternative
                                     Habitat and Wildlife Management Issues
1. Native Flora/Fauna Conservation...  Conserve/restore         Same as Alternative A,   Same as Alternative B
                                        bottomland hardwood      plus use prescribed
                                        forests. Restore         fire for resource
                                        native flora;            management and
                                        reintroduce native       initiate baseline
                                        fauna; manage native     monitoring for flora
                                        nuisance flora/fauna.    and fauna.
2. Invasive Flora/Fauna Management...  Remove exotic and        Same as Alternative A,   Same as Alternative B.
                                        invasive flora/fauna     plus develop invasive
                                        as resources permit;     species strike team
                                        prevent reintroduction   and map ``hotspots''
                                        of exotic and invasive   to prioritize
                                        flora/fauna as           management efforts.
                                        resources permit.
3. Wetland Management................  Maintain the integrity   Same as Alternative A,   Same as Alternative B.
                                        of water control         plus conduct small-
                                        structures/levees;       scale restoration of
                                        conduct water-quality    hydrological flow at
                                        sampling and fish        Champion Lake South
                                        surveys.                 unit.

[[Page 64542]]

4. Land Acquisition..................  Acquire lands from       Update Trinity River     Same as Alternative B.
                                        willing sellers within   Floodplain Habitat
                                        the approved             Stewardship Program
                                        acquisition boundary     and Land Protection
                                        on a case-by-case        Plan to update the
                                        basis.                   acquisition boundary;
                                                                 assign refuge realty
                                                                 specialist to Refuge
5. Climate Change....................  Plant trees to           Same as Alternative A,   Same as Alternative B.
                                        sequester carbon; use    plus gather baseline
                                        ``green'' technologies   inventory and
                                        wherever possible, and   monitoring data.
6. Resource Protection...............  Assign refuge law        Same as Alternative A,   Same as Alternative B,
                                        enforcement officer to   plus add patrols using   plus add an additional
                                        patrol 25,000 acres,     other refuges' law       officer to patrol up
                                        backed up by             enforcement officers.    to 80,000 acres.
                                        observations by other
                                        refuge staff.
                                             Visitor Services Issues
1. Hunting...........................  Designate units open to  Same as Alternative A,   Same as Alternative B,
                                        hunting by permit        plus open one            plus open one
                                        only, for big game,      additional unit for      additional unit for
                                        upland game, and         big game hunting at      big game and upland
                                        waterfowl, as is         Champion Lake South      game hunting at
                                        currently the case in    unit.                    Palmetto unit.
                                        eight units.
2. Fishing...........................  Direct visitors to       Same as Alternative A,   Same as Alternative B,
                                        Champion Lake and        plus direct visitors     plus direct visitors
                                        Pickett's Bayou.         to McGuire and Silver    to Brierwood unit once
                                                                 Lake units when piers    pier is developed.
                                                                 are developed.
3. Wildlife Observation..............  Open refuge to wildlife  Same as Alternative A    Same as Alternative B,
                                        observation; direct      plus open 1 additional   plus open one
                                        visitors to eight        area at Champion Lake    additional area at
                                        public use areas.        South unit.              Palmetto unit.
4. Wildlife Photography..............  Open refuge to           Same as Alternative A    Same as Alternative B,
                                        photography; direct      plus construct photo     plus construct photo
                                        visitors to eight        blind at Brierwood       blind at McGuire unit.
                                        public use areas.        unit.
5. Environmental Education...........  Do not develop           Develop off-refuge       Same as Alternative B,
                                        environmental            environmental            plus develop on-refuge
                                        education programs on    education curricula,     program, upon the
                                        the refuge.              working with local       completion of the
                                                                 schools to meet State    educational facility
                                                                 requirements.            at Champion Lake
                                                                                          Public Use Area.
6. Interpretation....................  Host two on-refuge       Same as Alternative A,   Same as Alternative B,
                                        annual festivals, on     plus host                plus develop
                                        Earth Day and on Free    approximately 10         interpretive programs
                                        Family Fishing Day;      additional off- refuge   at visitor center;
                                        host approximately six   events, as requested;    develop and provide
                                        off-refuge annual        develop and provide      kiosks in all areas
                                        events, such as county   self-guided              with public use
                                        jubilee and various      interpretative           facilities.
                                        public speaking events.  materials at Champion
                                                                 Lake and Brierwood
                                                Facilities Issues
1. Public Use Access.................  Allow vehicular on       Same as Alternative A,   Same as Alternative B,
                                        designated unpaved       plus improve road to     plus open trail at
                                        roads; allow walk-in-    McGuire Pond;            Champion Lake South
                                        only access on eight     establish canoe/kayak    unit.
                                        designated units;        launch site at
                                        allow boating access     Brierwood unit.
                                        on Pickett's Bayou and
                                        Champion Lake.
2. Public Use Facilities.............  Maintain current         Rehabilitate the Lodge   Construct visitor
                                        limited facilities at    at Champion Lake         center adjacent to
                                        Champion Lake Public     Public Use Area, pave    headquarters;
                                        Use Area, including      the road at Champion     construct fishing
                                        fishing pier,            Lake Public Use Area,    piers at Brierwood
                                        butterfly garden,        and construct fishing    unit; construct full-
                                        parking, and portable    pier at McGuire unit.    service bathroom at
                                        toilet. Seven other                               Champion Lake Public
                                        public use areas have                             Use Area.
                                        only one parking lot
                                        each and one photo
                                        blind each.
3. Administrative Facilities.........  Maintain refuge-owned    Construct a maintenance  Rehabilitate the two-
                                        headquarters and         shop at Champion Lake    room log cabin at
                                        storage facility along   equipment storage area.  Champion Lake for use
                                        FM 1011.                                          for staff and
                                                                                          volunteer offices.


    We solicited comments on the draft CCP and the EA for the Trinity 
River NWR from March 28, 2012, to May 4, 2012 (77 FR 718853; March 28, 
2012). The public was notified of the release of the draft CCP and the 
EA through the NOA, through local media outlets, and public notices 
were posted on various community bulletin boards and postcards were 
mailed to over 700 individuals identified on the refuge mailing list. 
The draft CCP and EA were made available, online, at the Regional 
Office in Albuquerque, at the Refuge,

[[Page 64543]]

and at four public libraries in surrounding communities. A public open 
house meeting was held on April 10, 2012. The Service received two 
comment letters. The comments were thoroughly reviewed and the CCP did 
not change substantially based on public comment.

Selected Alternative

    After considering the comments we received, we have selected 
Alternative C for implementation. Alternative C was selected over the 
other alternatives because it best meets the Refuge's vision for the 
future, the purposes for which the Refuge was established, and the 
habitat, wildlife and visitor services goals identified in the CCP. 
This alternative is the basis for the CCP and describes how habitat 
objectives will be accomplished through a combination of management 
activities to encourage ecological integrity, promote restoration of 
bottomland hardwood forest habitat along the Trinity River, control 
invasive species. This alternative will not adversely impact trust 
resources, including threatened and endangered species, or their 
habitat. Opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation activities, 
such as hunting, fishing, observation, photography, environmental 
education, and interpretation will be enhanced. Future management 
actions will have a neutral or positive impact on the local economy and 
the recommendations in the CCP will ensure that refuge management is 
consistent with the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to the methods in ADDRESSES, you can view or obtain 
documents at the following locations:
     At the following libraries:

              Library                      Address           Phone No.
Liberty Municipal Library.........  1710 Sam Houston Ave    936-336-8901
                                     Liberty, TX 77575.
Dayton Library....................  307 W. Houston          936-258-7060
                                     Dayton, TX 77535.
Austin Memorial Library...........  220 S. Bonham           281-592-3920
                                     Cleveland, TX 77327.
Tarkington Community Library......  3032 FM 163 Rd          281-592-5136
                                     Cleveland, TX 77327.

Benjamin N. Tuggle,
Regional Director, Southwest Region.
[FR Doc. 2012-25942 Filed 10-19-12; 8:45 am]