[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 53 (Monday, March 19, 2012)]
[Pages 16058-16059]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-6532]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-R-2011-N180; 1265-0000-10137-S3]

Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, Pacific County, WA; Record of 
Decision for Final Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the 
availability of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge final 
comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and record of decision (ROD). We 
completed a thorough analysis of the environmental, social, and 
economic considerations and presented it in our Final CCP and 
environmental impact statement (EIS), which we released to the public 
on August 12, 2011. The ROD documents our decision to implement 
Alternative 2, as it is described in the Final CCP/EIS.

DATES: The Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, signed the ROD on September 29, 2011. We plan to begin 
implementation of the CCP immediately.

ADDRESSES: You may view or request a copy of the CCP/ROD by the 
following methods:
    Agency Web Site: Download the document at: http://www.fws.gov/willapa/CCP/.
    Email: FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov. Include ``Willapa NWR CCP/ROD'' 
in the subject line of the message.
    Mail: Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, 3888 SR 101, Ilwaco, WA 
    In person viewing: Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 3888 
SR 101, Ilwaco, WA 98624.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Charlie Stenvall, Project Leader, 
(360) 484-3482 (phone).



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for the Refuge. We 
started this process through a notice of intent in the Federal Register 
on April 9, 2008 (73 FR 19238). We announced the availability of our 
draft and final documents in the Federal Register as well. Our Draft 
CCP/EIS was released on January 21, 2011 (76 FR 3922), and our Final 
CCP/EIS was released on August 12, 2011 (76 FR 50247).
    The Refuge was established in 1937 to protect migrating and 
wintering populations of brant, waterfowl, shorebirds, and other 
migratory birds, and for conservation purposes. It encompasses over 
16,000 acres of tidelands, temperate rainforest, ocean beaches, sand 
dunes, rivers, and small streams. Remnants of old growth coastal cedar 
forest and habitats for spawning wild salmon, migrating shorebirds, and 
threatened and endangered species, such as the western snowy plover and 
marbled murrelet, are preserved on the Refuge.
    We evaluated three alternatives for managing the Refuge's resources 
in the Final CCP/EIS, identified Alternative 2 as our preferred 
alternative, and completed a thorough analysis of environmental, 
social, and economic considerations. The ROD documents our selection of 
Alternative 2 for implementation. Alternative 2 is the foundation of 
our CCP. The CCP will guide our management and administration of the 
Refuge for the next 15 years. In accordance with National Environmental 
Policy Act and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6(b)), this 
notice announces the availability of our CCP/ROD.


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

CCP Alternatives and Selected Alternative

    We identified management issues in our Draft and Final CCP/EIS. To 
address these issues, we developed and evaluated three alternatives. 
Alternative 1 is our no-action alternative; under it, current Refuge 
management programs would continue. Under Alternative 2, our preferred 
alternative, current management would continue and a number of 
compatible improvements to our wildlife, habitat, biodiversity, and 
visitor services management activities would be implemented. Under 
Alternative 3, we would continue current Refuge management programs, 
and some improvements to wildlife, habitat, and visitor services 
management would occur, but to a lesser degree than under Alternative 
    After considering public comments, we selected Alternative 2, as it 
is described in the Final CCP/EIS, for implementation. Alternative 2 
will best achieve Refuge purposes, and contribute toward the mission of 
the National Wildlife Refuge System, consistent with the sound 
principles of fish and wildlife science and conservation, legal 
mandates, and Service policies. Current wildlife and habitat management 
will continue under Alternative 2, including maintaining freshwater 
wetlands on the Tarlatt Unit and implementing our forest management 
plan. The following improvements will be implemented over time.
     The Refuge's intensively managed pastures and impoundments 
will be restored to historic estuarine conditions, increasing open 
water, intertidal flats, and salt marsh habitats by 621 acres.
     Avian and mammalian predators on the Leadbetter Point Unit 
will be controlled as necessary, to help meet western snowy plover 
population recovery goals.
     We will manage 93 acres of short-grass fields as foraging 
habitat for Canada geese, elk, and other wildlife, on the Riekkola 
Unit. Grassland restoration will include establishing the early-blue 
violet host plant on 33 acres, which will serve the future 
reintroduction of the endangered Oregon silverspot butterfly.
     We will expand the approved Refuge acquisition boundary by 
6,809 acres in the Nemah, Naselle, South Bay, and East Hills areas, and 
divest the Shoalwater and Wheaton Units (941 acres) from the Refuge.
     We will develop an interpretive trail and observation deck 
along the South Bay that will tie into our proposed Tarlatt Unit 
visitor/administrative facility.
     After the proposed estuarine restoration is completed, we 

[[Page 16059]]

expand the waterfowl hunting area to 5,570 acres.
     We will provide an additional 100 acres, and develop three 
blinds for goose hunting, including a barrier-free blind. Two blinds 
for waterfowl hunting, including a barrier-free blind, will also be 
developed. Walk-in hunters will access the blinds on a first-come-
first-served basis.
     We will develop a year-round cartop boat launch, parking 
area, and 0.6-mile Porter Point Trail, to access the South Bay.
     A special-permit elk hunt is planned on the Leadbetter 
Point Unit. Elk and deer hunting are proposed during State seasons on 
the South Bay and East Hills Units.

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to options listed under ADDRESSES, you can view our 
CCP/ROD at the following libraries.
     Ilwaco Timberland Library, 158 1st Ave. North, Ilwaco, WA 
     South Bend Timberland Library, 1216 West 1st St., South 
Bend, WA 98586.
     Ocean Park Timberland Library, 1308 256th Place, Ocean 
Park, WA 98640.
     Astoria Public Library, 450 10th St., Astoria, OR 97103.

    Dated: March 7, 2012.
Richard R. Hannan,
Acting Regional Director, Pacific Region, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2012-6532 Filed 3-16-12; 8:45 am]