[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 60 (Wednesday, March 28, 2012)]
[Pages 18853-18856]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-7400]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R2-R-2012-N019; FXRS12610200000S3-123-FF02R06000]

Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, Liberty County, TX; 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of a draft comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and an 
environmental assessment (EA) for Trinity River National Wildlife 
Refuge (Refuge, NWR), located approximately 50 miles northeast of 
Houston, Texas, for public review and comment. The Draft CCP/EA 
describes our proposal for managing the refuge for the next 15 years.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
May 4, 2012. We will announce upcoming public meetings in local news 

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments or requests for copies or more 
information by any of the following methods. You may request hard 
copies or a CD-ROM of the documents. Please contact Stuart Marcus, 
Refuge Manager, or Joseph Lujan, Natural Resource Planner.
    Email: Joseph_Lujan@fws.gov. Include ``Trinity River NWR draft CCP 
and EA'' in the subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attn: Joseph Lujan, 505-248-6803.
    U.S. Mail: Joseph Lujan, Natural Resource Planner, U.S. Fish and

[[Page 18854]]

Wildlife Service, NWRS Division of Planning, P.O. Box 1306, 
Albuquerque, NM 87103.
    In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: In-Person Drop-off: You may 
drop off comments during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) 
at 500 Gold Street SW., 4th Floor, Room. 4305, Albuquerque, NM 87102.

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



    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for the Trinity River 
NWR. We started this process through a notice in the Federal Register 
(72 FR 45059; August 10, 2007).
    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 


The CCP Process

    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 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.

Public Outreach

    Formal scoping began with publication of a notice of intent to 
prepare a comprehensive conservation plan and environmental assessment 
(EA) in the Federal Register on August 10, 2007 (72 FR 45059). In 
September 2008, a letter was sent to individuals at Texas Parks and 
Wildlife Department (TPWD), formally inviting them to participate in 
the development of the CCP. We received input from TPWD in January 
2009, and have continued to involve them throughout the planning 
process. Information sheets were sent to the public, and news releases 
were sent to a variety of media outlets. The news release also aired on 
KSHN 99.9 FM Radio in Liberty, Texas. Three public open house meetings 
were held from November 30 through December 2, 2009. Additional written 
comments were received prior to these open house meetings. The meetings 
were held at three locations in the area, on three separate evenings. A 
variety of stakeholders contributed feedback at the open house meetings 
and via written comments; we used the feedback in development of the 

CCP Alternatives We Are Considering

    During the public scoping process with which we started work on 
this draft CCP, we, other governmental partners, Tribes, and the 
public, raised multiple issues. Our draft CCP addresses them. A full 
description of each alternative is in the EA. To address these issues, 
we developed and evaluated the following alternatives, summarized 

                                                                                           C--Optimal habitat
                                    A--No action alternative     B--Improved habitat      management and public
           Alternatives               (current practices)       management and public     use (proposed action)
                                                                   use alternative             alternative
                                     Habitat and Wildlife Management Issues
1. Native Flora/Fauna              Conserve/restore           Same as Alternative A,    Same as Alternative B.
 Conservation.                      bottomland hardwood        plus use prescribed
                                    forests. Restore native    fire for resource
                                    flora; reintroduce         management and initiate
                                    native fauna; manage       baseline monitoring for
                                    native nuisance flora/     flora and fauna.
2. Invasive Flora/Fauna            Remove exotic and          Same as Alternative A,    Same as Alternative B.
 Management.                        invasive flora/fauna as    plus develop invasive
                                    resources permit;          species strike team and
                                    prevent reintroduction     map ``hotspots'' to
                                    of exotic and invasive     prioritize management
                                    flora/fauna as resources   efforts.
3. Wetland Management............  Maintain the integrity of  Same as Alternative A,    Same as Alternative B.
                                    water control structures/  plus conduct small-
                                    levees; conduct water-     scale restoration of
                                    quality sampling and       hydrological flow at
                                    fish surveys.              Champion Lake South
4. Land Acquisition..............  Acquire lands from         Update Trinity River      Same as Alternative B.
                                    willing sellers within     Floodplain Habitat
                                    the approved acquisition   Stewardship Program and
                                    boundary on a case-by-     Land Protection Plan to
                                    case basis.                update the acquisition
                                                               boundary; assign refuge
                                                               realty specialist to
                                                               Trinity River NWR.
5. Climate Change................  Plant trees to sequester   Same as Alternative A,    Same as Alternative B.
                                    carbon; use ``green''      plus gather baseline
                                    technologies wherever      inventory and
                                    possible, and recycle.     monitoring data.

[[Page 18855]]

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 to
                                    backed up by               enforcement officers.     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 only,    plus open one             plus open one
                                    for big game, upland       additional unit for big   additional unit for big
                                    game, and waterfowl, as    game hunting at           game and upland game
                                    is currently the case in   Champion Lake South       hunting at Palmetto
                                    eight units.               unit.                     unit.
2. Fishing.......................  Direct visitors to         Same as Alternative A,    Same as Alternative B,
                                    Champion Lake and          plus direct visitors to   plus direct visitors to
                                    Pickett's Bayou.           McGuire and Silver Lake   Brierwood unit once
                                                               units when piers are      pier is developed.
3. Wildlife Observation..........  Open refuge to wildlife    Same as Alternative A     Same as Alternative B,
                                    observation; direct        plus open one             plus open one
                                    visitors to eight public   additional area at        additional area at
                                    use areas.                 Champion Lake South       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 public   blind at Brierwood unit.  blind at McGuire unit.
                                    use areas.
5. Environmental Education.......  Do not develop             Develop off-refuge        Same as Alternative B,
                                    environmental education    environmental education   plus develop on-refuge
                                    programs on the refuge.    curricula, working with   program, upon the
                                                               local schools to meet     completion of the
                                                               State requirements.       educational facility at
                                                                                         Champion Lake Public
                                                                                         Use Area.
6. Interpretation................  The refuge hosts two on-   Same as Alternative A,    Same as Alternative B,
                                    refuge annual festivals,   plus host approximately   plus develop
                                    on Earth Day and on Free   10 additional off-        interpretive programs
                                    Family Fishing Day; host   refuge events, as         at visitor center;
                                    approximately six off-     requested; develop and    develop and provide
                                    refuge annual events,      provide self-guided       kiosks in all areas
                                    such as county jubilee     interpretative            with public use
                                    and various public         materials at Champion     facilities.
                                    speaking events.           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; establish   Champion Lake South
                                    only access on eight       canoe/kayak launch site   unit.
                                    designated units; allow    at Brierwood unit.
                                    boating access on
                                    Pickett's Bayou and
                                    Champion Lake.
2. Public Use Facilities.........  Maintain current limited   Rehabilitate the Lodge    Construct visitor center
                                    facilities at Champion     at Champion Lake Public   adjacent to
                                    Lake Public Use Area,      Use Area, pave the road   headquarters; construct
                                    including fishing pier,    at Champion Lake Public   fishing piers at
                                    butterfly garden,          Use Area, and construct   Brierwood unit;
                                    parking, and portable      fishing pier at McGuire   construct full-service
                                    toilet Seven other         unit.                     bathroom at Champion
                                    public use areas have                                Lake Public Use Area.
                                    only one parking lot and
                                    one photo blind each.
3. Administrative Facilities.....  Maintain refuge-owned      Construct a maintenance   Rehabilitate the two-
                                    headquarters and storage   shop at Champion Lake     room log cabin at
                                    facility along FM 1011.    equipment storage area.   Champion Lake for use
                                                                                         for staff and volunteer

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to using any methods in ADDRESSES, you can view or 
obtain documents at the following locations:
     Trinity River NWR Headquarters Office, 601 FM 1011, 
Liberty, TX 77575, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday 
through Friday.
     Our Web site: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/Plan/publicinvolvement.html.
     The following public libraries:

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

[[Page 18856]]

Submitting Comments/Issues for Comment

    We consider comments substantive if they:
     Question, with reasonable basis, the accuracy of the 
information in the document;
     Question, with reasonable basis, the adequacy of the 
environmental assessment (EA);
     Present reasonable alternatives other than those presented 
in the EA; and/or
     Provide new or additional information relevant to the 

Next Steps

    After this comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and 
address them in the form of a final CCP and finding of no significant 

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: January 31, 2012.
Joy E. Nicholopoulos,
Acting, Regional Director, Southwest Region.
[FR Doc. 2012-7400 Filed 3-27-12; 8:45 am]