[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 40 (Thursday, February 28, 2013)]
[Pages 13692-13694]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-04639]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2012-N154; FXRS12650400000S3-123-FF04R02000]

Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge, KY; Final Comprehensive 
Conservation Plan/Land Protection Plan, and Finding of No Significant 
Impact for the Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the

[[Page 13693]]

availability of the final comprehensive conservation plan (CCP)/land 
protection plan (LPP), and finding of no significant impact for the 
environmental assessment for Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge 
(NWR) in Graves, Marshall, and McCracken Counties, Kentucky. In the 
final CCP/LPP, we describe how we will manage this refuge for the next 
15 years.

ADDRESSES: You may obtain a copy of the final CCP/LPP by writing to: 
Mr. Michael Johnson, Clarks River NWR, P.O. Box 89, Benton, KY 42025. 
Alternatively, you may download the document from our Internet Site, 
http://southeast.fws.gov/planning/, under ``Final Documents.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Michael Johnson at 270/527-5770 
(telephone); 270/703-2963 (fax); michael_johnson@fws.gov (email).



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP/LPP process for Clarks River 
NWR. We started the process through a notice in the Federal Register on 
August 29, 2008 (73 FR 50981). For more about the process, see that 
    Clarks River NWR was established in 1997. The acquisition boundary 
currently approved by Congress is approximately 18,000 acres, of which 
8,634 acres have been purchased. The lands are distributed among three 
counties as follows: Graves County (56 acres), Marshall County (5,970 
acres), and McCracken County (2,608 acres). Lands are purchased on a 
willing-seller basis only.
    Approximately 74 percent of the land associated with Clarks River 
NWR is forested, 22 percent is agricultural, and 2 percent is 
freshwater marsh/shrub swamp with managed impoundments, native warm-
season grasses, and disturbed lands (roads, utility corridors, etc.), 
comprising less than 1 percent each. Refuge lands are managed for all 
plants and animals that occur in the area of western Kentucky, with a 
primary emphasis on migratory songbirds and waterfowl, game species, 
and listed species. Refuge goals and objectives are achieved through 
forest management, cooperative farming, habitat restoration, water 
management, and prescribed fire.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the final CCP/LPP 
and FONSI for Clarks River NWR in accordance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (40 CFR 1506.6(b)) requirements. We 
completed a thorough analysis of impacts on the human environment, 
which we included in the draft comprehensive conservation plan and 
environmental assessment (Draft CCP/EA).
    The final CCP/LPP will guide us in managing and administering 
Clarks River NWR for the next 15 years. The LPP will expand the current 
acquisition boundary of Clarks River NWR by 34,269 acres, bringing the 
total refuge acquisition boundary to approximately 53,874 acres. This 
acquisition will enable us to protect lands along the east and west 
fork of the Clarks River.
    The compatibility determinations for (1) Hunting; (2) fishing; (3) 
wildlife observation and photography; (4) environmental education and 
interpretation; (5) nuisance animal control; (6) outdoor recreation 
including non-motorized boating, walking, hiking, jogging, and 
bicycling; (7) research and monitoring; (8) horseback riding; and (9) 
mobility-impaired all-terrain vehicle access are also available in the 
final CCP/LPP.


    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. 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, wildlife photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation. We will review and update 
the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with the Administration 


    Approximately 300 copies of the Draft CCP/EA were made available 
for a 30-day public review period as announced in the Federal Register 
on February 15, 2012 (77 FR 8890). More than 270 people attended and 
many submitted comments at three public meetings held to discuss the 
Draft CCP/EA. A total of 55 respondents submitted written comments on 
the Draft CCP/EA by mail or email. The Draft CCP/EA identified and 
evaluated three alternatives for managing the refuge over the next 15 

Selected Alternative

    After considering the comments we received and based on the 
professional judgment of the planning team, we selected Alternative B 
for implementation. Alternative B emphasizes management of the natural 
resources of Clarks River NWR based on maintaining and improving 
wetland habitats, monitoring targeted flora and fauna representative of 
the surrounding Clarks River watershed, and providing quality public 
use programs and wildlife-dependent recreational activities. Certain 
targeted species will be managed and monitored in addition to species 
of Federal responsibility. These species will be chosen based on the 
criteria that they are indicators of the health of important habitat. 
Information gaps in our knowledge of the refuge's aquatic species will 
be addressed.
    Restoration efforts, habitat management, forest management, and the 
prescribed fire program will reflect best management practices 
determined after examination of historical regimes, soil types and 
elevation, and the current hydrological system. Management actions will 
be monitored for effectiveness and adapted to changing conditions and 
technology. We will develop a Habitat Management Plan to guide future 
habitat projects and evaluate previous actions.
    Public use programs will be improved by offering more facilities 
and wildlife observation areas. We will monitor public use to determine 
if there are any negative impacts occurring due to overuse of the 
resources. Public use programs will be updated to support and teach 
reasons behind management actions, and to provide quality experiences 
to visitors. The refuge headquarters will be developed to provide more 
visitor services, and a new visitor center will be constructed. We will 
strive for a balanced program of wildlife-dependent recreational 
activities while protecting wildlife resources. Archaeological 
resources will be surveyed.
    We currently have fee-title ownership of about 8,634 acres, with an 
approved acquisition boundary of 19,605 acres. Fee-title lands are 
distributed as follows: Graves County (56 acres), Marshall County 
(5,970 acres), and McCracken County (2,608 acres). Lands are purchased 
on a willing-seller basis only. Alternative B includes an acquisition 
boundary expansion of 34,269 acres, bringing the total refuge 
acquisition boundary to approximately

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53,874 acres that would protect lands along the east and west fork of 
the Clarks River. Land acquisitions within the existing and expanded 
acquisition boundaries will be based on importance of the habitat for 
target management species. We will offer wildlife-dependent public use 
of refuge wildlife and habitats, as well as demonstrate habitat 
    Under Alternative B, our management decisions and actions will 
support wildlife species and habitats occurring on the refuge based on 
well-planned strategies and sound scientific judgment. Quality 
wildlife-dependent recreational uses and environmental education and 
interpretation programs will be offered to support and explain the 
natural resources of the refuge.
    We will add six new positions to current staffing in order to 
continue to protect resources, provide visitor services, and attain 
goals of facilities and equipment maintenance in the future. The 
biological environment will improve as adaptive and best management 
practices are utilized. Socioeconomic values should increase as the 
refuge offers more wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities. The 
refuge is beneficial to local ecotourism trade and residents searching 
for natural landscapes and the associated benefits.


    This notice is published under the authority of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd et 

    Dated: July 27, 2012.
Mark J. Musaus,
Acting Regional Director.

    Editorial Note: This document was received at the Office of the 
Federal Register February 25, 2013.
[FR Doc. 2013-04639 Filed 2-27-13; 8:45 am]