[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 228 (Tuesday, November 27, 2012)]
[Pages 70805-70807]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-28752]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2012-N200; BAC-4311-K9-S3]

Presquile National Wildlife Refuge, Chesterfield County, VA; 
Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Finding of No Significant 

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 Presquile National 
Wildlife Refuge (NWR, refuge) in Chesterfield County, Virginia. 
Presquile NWR is administered by the Eastern Virginia Rivers NWR 
Complex in Warsaw, Virginia. 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/presquile/ccphome.html.
    Email: Send requests to EasternVirginiaRiversNWRC@fws.gov. Include 
``Presquile CCP'' in the subject line of your email.
    Mail: Andy Hofmann, Project Leader, Eastern Virginia Rivers NWR 
Complex, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 1030, 335 Wilna Road, 
Warsaw, VA 22572.
    Fax: Attention: Andy Hofmann, 804-333-1470.
    In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Call Andy Hofmann, Project Leader, at 
804-333-1470 extension 112 during regular business hours to make an 
appointment to view the document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andy Hofmann, Project Leader, Eastern 
Virginia Rivers NWR Complex, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; mailing 
address: P.O. Box 1030, 335 Wilna Road, Warsaw, VA 22572; 804-333-1470 
(phone); 804-333-3396 (fax); EasternVirginiaRiversNWRC@fws.gov (email) 
(please put ``Presquile CCP'' in the subject line).



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Presquile NWR. We 
started this process through a notice of intent in the Federal Register 
(76 FR 21001) on April 14, 2011. We announced the release of the draft 
CCP and environmental assessment (EA) to the public and requested 
comments in a notice of availability in the Federal Register (77 FR 
47433) on August 8, 2012.
    The 1,329-acre Presquile NWR is an island in the James River near 
Hopewell, Virginia, 20 miles southeast of Richmond. The refuge 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 backwaters of the James River, tidal swamp forest, tidal 
freshwater marshes, grasslands, mixed mesic forest, and river 
    Presquile NWR also offers a 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.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the FONSI for the 
final CCP for Presquile 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 Presquile NWR 
for the next 15 years. Alternative B, as described for the refuge in 
the draft CCP/EA, and with minor 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) (Refuge Administration Act), as amended by the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, requires us to 
develop a

[[Page 70806]]

CCP for each refuge. The purpose for developing a CCP is to provide 
refuge managers with a 15-year plan for achieving refuge purposes and 
contributing to the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System 
(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, 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 the Selected Alternative

    Our draft CCP/EA (77 FR 47433) addressed several key issues, 
     Managing refuge forests, grasslands, marshes, and aquatic 
habitats to benefit species of conservation concern, including Federal- 
and State-listed species.
     Protecting the water quality of wildlife habitats, 
including open water, tidal freshwater marsh, and tidal swamp forest, 
affecting the James River and Chesapeake Bay.
     Providing more public access opportunities on Presquile 
     Balancing the protection of historic resources with 
wildlife and habitat conservation.
    To address these issues and develop a plan based on the refuge's 
establishing purposes, vision, and goals, we evaluated two alternatives 
for Presquile NWR in the draft CCP/EA. 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 of the two 

Management Alternatives

Alternative A (Current Management)
    This alternative is the ``no action'' alternative required by NEPA. 
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 will 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 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 promote natural succession on 200 
acres of grassland habitat, resulting in its conversion to transitional 
mixed mesic forest habitat over the long term, for the benefit of 
migratory bird species. We would also expand our conservation, 
research, monitoring, and management partnerships to help restore and 
conserve the refuge.
    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 
and deer and/or turkey hunting opportunities for youth.


    We solicited comments on the draft CCP/EA for Presquile NWR from 
August 2 to September 7, 2012 (77 FR 47433). During the comment period, 
we received 19 written responses. We evaluated all of the substantive 
comments we received, and include a summary of those comments, and our 
responses to them, as appendix F in the final CCP.

Selected Alternative

    After considering the comments we received on our draft CCP/EA, we 
have made several minor changes to alternative B, including minor 
editorial, formatting, and typographical errors. These changes are 
described in the FONSI (appendix G in the final CCP) and in our 
response to public comments (appendix F in the final CCP).
    We have selected alternative B to implement for Presquile 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, Refuge System 
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 G in the final CCP).

Public Availability of Documents

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

[[Page 70807]]

    Dated: October 9, 2012.
Deborah Rocque,
Acting Regional Director, Northeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2012-28752 Filed 11-26-12; 8:45 am]