[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 77 (Monday, April 22, 2013)]
[Pages 23778-23780]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-09348]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R6-R-2012-N235; FF06R06000 134 FXRS1265066CCP0]

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, Stafford, KS; 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 
that our draft comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and environmental 
assessment (EA) for Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is available. This 
draft CCP/EA describes how the Service intends to manage this refuge 
for the next 15 years.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
on the draft CCP/EA by May 20, 2013.
    Submit comments by one of the methods under ADDRESSES.

[[Page 23779]]

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any 
of the following methods.
    Email: toni_griffin@fws.gov. Include ``Quivira NWR'' in the 
subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attn: Toni Griffin, Planning Team Leader, 303-236-4792.
    U.S. Mail: Toni Griffin, Planning Team Leader, Suite 300, 134 Union 
Boulevard, Lakewood, CO 80228.
    Document Request: A copy of the CCP/EA may be obtained by writing 
to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Refuge Planning, 134 
Union Boulevard, Suite 300, Lakewood, Colorado 80228; or by download 
from http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/planning.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Toni Griffin, 303-236-4378 (phone); 
303-236-4792 (fax); or toni_griffin@fws.gov (email); or David C. 
Lucas, 303-236-4366 (phone); 303-236-4792 (fax); or david_c_lucas@fws.gov.



    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for the Quivira 
National Wildlife Refuge. We started this process through a notice in 
the Federal Register (75 FR 8394, February 24, 2010).
    The 22,135-acre Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is part of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System and is located in Reno, Rice, and 
Stafford Counties in south-central Kansas. The Quivira National 
Wildlife Refuge was established in 1955 to provide wintering and 
migration stopover habitat for migratory birds along the Central Flyway 
of North America. Wetlands large and small are present throughout the 
refuge, with approximately 7,000 acres of wetlands with slightly to 
moderately saline water. Thousands of Canada geese, ducks, and other 
migratory birds such as sandhill cranes and shorebirds use these 
wetlands as they pass through the refuge on their annual migrations. 
The refuge provides critical habitat for the federally listed whooping 
crane and State-listed western snowy plover. Bald eagles winter and 
nest on the refuge, and Interior least terns nest on the refuge. The 
refuge also provides numerous opportunities for the public, including 
hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, interpretation 
and environmental education for students and visitors. The Quivira 
Refuge manages the Great Plains Nature Center located in Wichita, which 
compliments and supports the purpose of the refuge. The refuge has many 
special designations, including the following: It is a Ramsar Site 
(Wetlands of International Importance), it is in the Western Hemisphere 
Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN), and it is an Important Bird Area 
(IBA, National Audubon Society) and Research Natural Area.


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

Public Outreach

    We started the CCP for Quivira Refuge in February 2010. At that 
time and throughout the process, we requested public comments and 
considered and incorporated them in the planning process. Public 
outreach has included a news release, planning update, and three 
scoping meetings. Comments we received cover topics such as habitat 
management, threatened and endangered species, and public use. We have 
considered and evaluated all of these comments, with many incorporated 
into the various alternatives addressed in the draft CCP and the EA.

CCP Alternatives We Are Considering

Alternative A--Current Management (No Action)

    Funding, staff levels, and management activities at the refuge 
would not change. Habitats would be managed to increase and maintain 
resilience through conservation of native communities. Baseline 
monitoring of habitat conditions that could potentially be related to 
the effects of climate change would continue. Staff would continue to 
seek information and maintain communications with others regarding 
current and potential future conservation issues impacting the refuge, 
while periodically assessing the role of the refuge at different 
landscape scales. The hydrology of the Big Salt Marsh would be allowed 
to fluctuate with natural climate variations, and use of Rattlesnake 
Creek water would be limited. The Little Salt Marsh would continue to 
be used to serve the dual roles of providing waterbird habitat and 
storing water from Rattlesnake Creek to facilitate management of other 
refuge wetlands.
    Migratory birds would continue to be the focus of refuge 
management, with a primary focus of wetland management to provide 
migration, resting, and nesting habitat for a diversity of waterbirds, 
especially waterfowl, cranes, shorebirds, and rails. Upland habitats 
would continue to be managed to provide migratory and nesting habitat, 
primarily favoring native wildlife communities characteristic of open 
sand prairie. Quivira Refuge would continue to manage habitats in 
support of Federal and State threatened and endangered species, Federal 
candidate species, and State species in need of conservation, 
especially those species with designated critical habitat on Quivira 
Refuge lands and those that most commonly depend on refuge resources. 
Staffing would consist of nine full-time permanent refuge funded 
employees, one permanent part-time employee and two fire-funded staff. 
In addition, one permanent employee would be stationed at the GPNC. The 
Service would continue to support the GPNC through its partnership with 
the City of Wichita Department of Park and Recreation and the Kansas 
Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Level of Service staffing at 
the GPNC would remain the same.

Alternative B--Proposed Action

    Management would focus on restoring native communities that benefit 
focal resources, or focal species and their respective habitats, and 
increasing public use opportunities for hunting. Increased attention 
would be given to understanding and minimizing effects of management 
among habitat types, such as habitat changes in meadow and adjacent 
uplands resulting from water management in created wetlands. This 
should enhance awareness of the connectedness of habitats and areas 
throughout the refuge. To achieve this alternative, relatively minor 
changes in the refuge's operations; inventory,

[[Page 23780]]

monitoring, and research; staffing; and infrastructure would likely be 

Alternative C

    The intent of alternative C would be to promote self-sustaining 
natural processes to the extent possible. Key values of restoring 
natural ecological processes are achieving long-term sustainability of 
native communities and lowering maintenance costs on some aspects of 
management. Management efforts, such as prescribed fire, grazing, and 
invasive species control, would be focused on maintaining native plant 
community composition and diversity, with the assumption that native 
wildlife would benefit from these activities. Relative to other 
alternatives, habitat conditions would be allowed to fluctuate more 
with climatically driven wet and dry cycles; however, some management 
would still be required to mitigate the effects of past land use on the 
refuge and in the watershed that have permanently altered some 
ecological processes.
    Initially, considerable time would be required to assess current 
ecological functions, identify key elements that should be restored, 
and evaluate potential restoration options that could be implemented 
within the constraints imposed by biological, economic, social, 
political, and legal considerations. Implementation of this alternative 
would occur in stages over many years, and changes in refuge research 
and monitoring, staffing, operations, and infrastructure would be 
required. In addition, the success of actions implemented under this 
alternative would be influenced greatly by the ability of management to 
develop new and expanded partnerships with a diversity of stakeholders 
in the Rattlesnake Creek watershed.

Public Meetings

    Opportunity for public input will be provided at public meetings. 
The specific dates and times for the public meetings are yet to be 
determined, but will be announced via local media and a planning 

Next Steps

    After the public reviews and provides comments on the draft CCP and 
EA, the planning team will present this document along with a summary 
of all substantive public comments to the Regional Director. The 
Regional Director will consider the environmental effects of each 
alternative, including information gathered during public review, and 
will select a preferred alternative for the draft CCP and EA. If the 
Regional Director finds that no significant impacts would occur, the 
Regional Director's decision will be disclosed in a finding of no 
significant impact included in the final CCP. If the Regional Director 
finds a significant impact would occur, an environmental impact 
statement will be prepared. If approved, the action in the preferred 
alternative will compose the final CCP.

Public Availability of Comments

    All public comment information provided voluntarily by mail, by 
phone, or at meetings (e.g., names, addresses, letters of comment, 
input recorded during meetings) becomes part of the official public 
record. If requested under the Freedom of Information Act by a private 
citizen or organization, the Service may provide copies of such 


    The environmental review of this project will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); NEPA 
Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508, 43 CFR part 46); other appropriate 
Federal laws and regulations; Executive Order 12996; the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997; and Service policies 
and procedures for compliance with those laws and regulations.

    Dated: October 29, 2012.
Noreen E. Walsh,
Acting Regional Director, Mountain Prairie Region, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-09348 Filed 4-19-13; 8:45 am]