[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 6 (Tuesday, January 10, 2012)]
[Pages 1503-1504]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-297]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2011-N221; BAC-4311-K9-S3]

Massasoit National Wildlife Refuge, Plymouth, MA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare a comprehensive conservation plan 
and environmental assessment; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to 
prepare a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and environmental 
assessment (EA) for Massasoit National Wildlife Refuge (the refuge, 
NWR) in Plymouth, Massachusetts. We provide this notice in compliance 
with our CCP policy to advise other Federal and State agencies, Tribes, 
and the public of our intention to conduct detailed planning on this 

DATES: We will announce opportunities for public input throughout the 
CCP process in the Federal Register, local news media, and on our 
refuge planning Web site at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/planning/Eastern%20Mass%203/ccphome.html.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any 
of the following methods.
    Email: northeastplanning@fws.gov. Include ``Massasoit CCP'' in the 
subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attn: Carl Melberg, (978) 443-2898.
    U.S. Mail: Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 73 Weir Hill Road, Sudbury, MA 01776.
    In-Person Drop-off: You may drop off comments during regular 
business hours at the address above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carl Melberg, Planning Team Leader, 
(978) 443-4661 extension 32 (telephone), or Libby Herland, Project 
Leader, (978) 443-4661 extension 11 (telephone), or fw5rw_emnrw@fws.gov (email).



    With this notice, we initiate our process for developing a CCP for 
Massasoit NWR, in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This notice complies with 
our CCP policy to advise other Federal and State agencies, Tribes, and 
the public of our intention to conduct detailed planning on this 


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 (NWRS), consistent with sound principles of fish 
and wildlife management and 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 Administration Act.
    Each unit of the NWRS was established for specific purposes. We use 
these purposes as the foundation for developing and prioritizing the 
management goals and objectives for each refuge within the NWRS, and to 
determine how the public can use each refuge. The planning process is a 
way for us and the public to evaluate management goals and objectives 
that will ensure the best possible approach to wildlife, plant, and 
habitat conservation, while providing for wildlife-dependent recreation 
opportunities that are compatible with each refuge's establishing 
purposes and the mission of the NWRS.
    Our CCP process provides participation opportunities for Tribal, 
State, and local governments, agencies,

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organizations, and the public. Throughout the process, we will have 
formal comment periods and hold public meetings to gather comments, 
issues, concerns, ideas, and suggestions for the future management of 
Massasoit NWR. You may also send comments anytime during the planning 
process by mail, email, or fax (see ADDRESSES).
    We will conduct the environmental review of this project and 
develop an EA in accordance with the requirements of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.), NEPA regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), other appropriate 
Federal laws and regulations, and our policies and procedures for 
compliance with those laws and regulations.

Massasoit National Wildlife Refuge

    Massasoit NWR is one of eight refuges that comprise the Eastern 
Massachusetts NWR Complex. Massasoit NWR was established in 1983 to 
conserve the federally endangered northern red-bellied cooter 
(Pseudemys rubriventris bangsi), as well as other native wildlife and 
plant species. The 209-acre refuge is located in Plymouth, 
Massachusetts, and is part of a larger 3,269-acre area designated as 
critical habitat for the cooter. Research, monitoring, and recovery 
efforts for this turtle take place on the refuge. To protect the turtle 
from harassment, harm, and poaching, the refuge is closed to public 

Scoping: Preliminary Issues, Concerns, and Opportunities

    We have identified several preliminary issues, concerns, and 
opportunities that we intend to address in more detail in the CCP. 
These include:
     The refuge's closure to public use;
     The refuge's prescribed burning program;
     The opportunity to protect the entire extant population of 
the northern red-bellied cooter in Plymouth County, as described in the 
species' recovery plan;
     The opportunity to provide and manage New England 
cottontail habitat;
     The opportunity to evaluate a possible expansion of the 
refuge's approved boundary;
     The impacts of climate change on refuge resources;
     The potential to improve community relations and increase 
outreach; and
     The opportunity to increase local awareness of the refuge 
and the NWRS.
    We expect that during public scoping, members of the public, our 
conservation partners, Federal and State agencies, and Tribal 
governments may identify additional issues.

Public Meetings

    During the planning process, we will hold public meetings for the 
public to provide comments, issues, concerns, ideas, and suggestions 
about refuge management. When we schedule formal comment periods and 
public meeting(s), we will announce them in the Federal Register, local 
news media, and on our refuge planning Web site at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/planning/Eastern%20Mass%203/ccphome.html. You can also obtain 
the schedule from the planning team leader or project leader (see 

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: December 14, 2011.
Henry Chang,
Acting Regional Director, Northeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Hadley, Massachusetts.
[FR Doc. 2012-297 Filed 1-9-12; 8:45 am]