[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 220 (Wednesday, November 14, 2012)]
[Pages 67829-67830]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-27610]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R6-R-2012-N183; FF06R06000-FXRS1266066CCP0S3-123]

Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge and UL Bend National 
Wildlife Refuge, MT; Availability of Record of Decision for the Final 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Final Environmental 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 a record of decision (ROD) for the final comprehensive 
conservation plan (CCP) and final environmental impact statement (EIS) 
for Charles M. Russell and UL Bend National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs, 

ADDRESSES: You may view or obtain copies of the ROD, the final CCP and 
final EIS, or other project information by any of the following 
    Agency Web site: Download a copy of the documents at www.fws.gov/cmr/planning.
    Email: cmrplanning@fws.gov. Include ``Request copy of Charles M. 
Russell NWR ROD'' in the subject line of the message.
    U.S. mail: Charles M. Russell NWR, P.O. Box 110, Lewistown, MT 
    In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Call 406-538-8706 to make an 
appointment during regular business hours at Charles M. Russell NWR 
Headquarters, Airport Road, Lewistown, MT 59457.
    Local Libraries: The final documents are available for review at 
the libraries listed under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Richard Potts, Project Leader, at 406-
538-8706 (phone), or Laurie Shannon, Planning Team Leader, 303-236-4317 
(phone) or laurie_shannon@fws.gov (email).



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Charles M. 
Russell and UL Bend NWRs. We started this process through a notice in 
the Federal Register (72 FR 68174, December 4, 2007). Following a 
lengthy scoping and alternatives development period, we published a 
second notice in the Federal Register (75 FR 54381, September 7, 2010), 
announcing the availability of the draft CCP and draft EIS and our 
intention to hold public meetings, and requesting comments. We then 
published a third notice in the Federal Register (75 FR 67095, November 
1, 2010), extending the comment period by 24 days to December 10, 2010.
    Charles M. Russell and UL Bend NWRs encompass nearly 1.1 million 
acres, including Fort Peck Reservoir in north central Montana. The 
Refuges extend about 125 air miles west from Fort Peck Dam to the 
western edge at the boundary of the Upper Missouri Breaks National 
Monument. UL Bend NWR lies within Charles M. Russell NWR. In essence, 
UL Bend NWR is a

[[Page 67830]]

refuge within a refuge, and the two refuges are managed as one unit and 
referred to as Charles M. Russell NWR. Refuge habitat includes native 
prairie, forested coulees, river bottoms, and badlands. Wildlife is as 
diverse as the topography and includes Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, 
white-tailed deer, pronghorn, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, sharp-
tailed grouse, greater sage-grouse, Sprague's pipit, black-footed 
ferrets, prairie dogs, and more than 236 species of birds.
    In accordance with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (40 CFR 
1506.6(b)) requirements, this notice announces the availability of the 
ROD for the final CCP and final EIS for Charles M. Russell NWR and UL 
Bend NWR. We completed a thorough analysis of the environmental, 
social, and economic considerations associated with our actions. The 
ROD documents our selection of alternative D, the preferred 
    The CCP will guide us in managing and administering Charles M. 
Russell NWR and UL Bend NWR for the next 15 years. Alternative D, as we 
described in the final EIS/ROD, is the foundation for the CCP.


The CCP Process

    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 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. We 
will review and update the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance 
with the Administration Act.

CCP Alternatives and Selected Alternative

    Our final CCP and final EIS (77 FR 26781; May 7, 2012) addressed 
several issues. To address these, we developed and evaluated the 
following alternatives: Alternative A--No Action, Alternative B--
Wildlife Population Emphasis, Alternative C--Public Use and Economic 
Use Emphasis, and Alternative D--Ecological Processes Emphasis.
    After consideration of 24,600 comments that we received on the 
draft CCP and draft EIS and several minor comments we received 
following the release of the final CCP and final EIS, we have selected 
alternative D--Ecological Processes Emphasis. It is the alternative 
that best meets the purposes of the refuges; the mission of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System; the vision and management goals set 
for the refuge; and also adheres to Service policies and guidelines. It 
considers the interests and perspectives of many agencies, 
organization, tribes, and the public. Additionally, it is the 
environmentally preferred alternative.
    Under alternative D and in cooperation with our partners, we would 
use natural, dynamic, ecological processes, and management activities 
in a balanced, responsible manner to restore and maintain the 
biological diversity, biological integrity, and environmental health of 
the Refuge. Once natural processes are restored, a more passive 
approach (less human assistance) would be favored. There would be 
quality wildlife-dependent public uses and experiences. Economic uses 
would be limited when they are injurious to ecological processes.

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to the using any of the methods listed under ADDRESSES, 
you can view or obtain a copy of the final CCP and final EIS at any of 
the following public libraries:

            Library                      Address            Phone No.
Garfield County................  228 E. Main, Jordan MT     406-557-2297
Glasgow........................  408 3rd Avenue,            406-228-2731
                                  Glasgow MT 59230.
Great Falls....................  301 2nd Avenue, Great      406-453-0349
                                  Falls MT 59401.
Lewistown......................  701 W. Main, Lewistown     406-538-5212
                                  MT 59457.
McCone County..................  1101 C Avenue, Circle,     406-485-2350
                                  MT 59215.
Petroleum County...............  205 S. Broadway,           406-429-2451
                                  Winnett, MT 59087.
Phillips County................  10 S. 4th Street E.,       406-542-2407
                                  Malta, MT 59538.
Montana State University-        1500 University Drive,     406-657-2011
 Billings.                        Billings, MT 59101.
Montana State University-        Roland R. Renne            406-994-3171
 Bozeman.                         Library, Centennial
                                  Mall, Bozeman, MT
Montana State University-Havre.  Northern Vande Bogart      406-265-3706
                                  Library, Cowan Drive,
                                  Havre, MT 59501.
University of Montana..........  Mansfield Library, 32      406-243-6860
                                  Campus Drive,
                                  Missoula, MT 59812.
Colorado State University......  Morgan Library, 501        970-491-1841
                                  University Avenue,
                                  Fort Collins, CO

    Dated: July 27, 2012.
Noreen E. Walsh,
 Acting Regional Director, Mountain-Prairie Region, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-27610 Filed 11-13-12; 8:45 am]