[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 118 (Thursday, June 19, 2014)]
[Pages 35183-35184]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-14323]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-R-2014-N045; FXRS12610800000-145-FF08R00000]

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, San Diego County, CA; Draft 
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 
Environmental Assessment (EA) for the San Diego National Wildlife 
Refuge (NWR). The Draft CCP/EA, prepared under the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, and in accordance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, describes how the Service 
proposes to manage the San Diego NWR for the next 15 years. Draft 
compatibility determinations for existing and future public uses, a 
draft feral pig monitoring and eradication plan, and a draft integrated 
pest management plan are also available for review and public comment 
with the Draft CCP/EA.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by August 18, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments, requests for more information, or 
requests to be added to the mailing list by any of the following 
    Email: Victoria_Touchstone@fws.gov. Include ``San Diego NWR CCP'' 
in the subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attn: Victoria Touchstone, 619-476-9149.
    U.S. Mail: Victoria Touchstone, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, San 
Diego NWR Complex, P.O. Box 2358, Chula Vista, CA 91912
    In-Person Drop-off: You may drop off comments at the San Diego NWR 
Complex Office; please call 619-476-9150, extension 103, for directions 
and access information.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Victoria Touchstone, Refuge Planner, 
at 619-476-9150, extension 103, or Jill Terp, Refuge Manager, at 619-
468-9245, extension 226. Further information may also be found at 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), which amended the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, requires 
the Service to develop a CCP for each national wildlife refuge. The 
purpose in 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 initiated the CCP/EA for the San Diego NWR in May 2006. At that 
time and throughout the process, we requested, considered, and 
incorporated public scoping comments in numerous ways. Our public 
outreach included a Federal Register notice of intent published on May 
24, 2006 (71 FR 29973), two public scoping meetings, three planning 
updates, and two public use workshops. The scoping comment period ended 
on July 15, 2006; however, additional input has been solicited from 
interested stakeholders throughout the planning process. Verbal 
comments were recorded at public meetings, and written comments have 
been received via letters, emails, and comment cards.

Refuge History

    The San Diego NWR was established in 1996 under the authorities of 
the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956, as amended (16 U.S.C. 742(a)-754); 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87 
Stat. 884); and Refuge Recreation Act of 1962, as amended (16 U.S.C. 
460k-460k-4). Land acquisition from willing sellers within both the 
approved 43,860-acre Refuge boundary for the Otay-Sweetwater Unit and 
the 8,220-acre Vernal Pools Stewardship Project boundary is intended to 
conserve large contiguous blocks of undisturbed native habitat. As of 
August 2013, the Refuge included approximately 11,530 acres, with 
11,470 acres distributed among several noncontiguous land areas within 
the Otay-Sweetwater Unit, and an additional 60 acres of vernal pool 
habitat included within the Del Mar Mesa Vernal Pool Unit.

Refuge Purposes

    The primary purposes of the San Diego NWR are to contribute to the 
recovery of endangered, threatened, and rare species; to support the 
native biodiversity of the southwestern San Diego Region by 
contributing to the development of a regional preserve under the San 
Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP); to provide 
breeding, migration, and wintering habitat for migratory birds; and to 
provide opportunities for compatible wildlife-dependent

[[Page 35184]]

recreation. A total of 16 species currently listed as threatened or 
endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and/or the 
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) are known to occur on the 
Refuge or have occurred there within the last 20 years. Many other 
species of concern, including at least 35 species covered by the San 
Diego MSCP, have been documented on the Refuge.


    The Draft CCP/EA identifies and evaluates four alternatives for 
managing the San Diego NWR. The alternative that appears to best meet 
the Refuge's purposes is identified as the preferred alternative. 
Identification of the preferred alternative is based on the analysis 
presented in the draft CCP/EA. The preferred alternative may be 
modified following the completion of the public comment period, after 
comments received from other agencies, tribal governments, 
nongovernmental organizations, and individuals have been reviewed and 

Alternative A (No-Action Alternative)

    Alternative A (no-action alternative) describes the current 
management practices that would continue to be implemented over the 
next 15 years.

Alternative B

    Alternative B focuses on maximizing habitat values and species 
protection. New and expanded wildlife and habitat management actions 
would be implemented to protect, restore, and enhance habitat values 
and support listed and sensitive species. The wildlife-dependent 
recreational uses currently occurring on the Refuge (i.e., wildlife 
observation, photography, environmental education, interpretation) 
would be managed to minimize disturbance to plants and wildlife. Public 
access would be restricted to a designated trail system consisting of 
both non-motorized multiple use (i.e., equestrian, mountain biking, 
hiking) trails and hiking-only trails. Unauthorized, user-created 
trails that contribute to erosion, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, 
and species disturbance would be decommissioned. No dogs would be 
permitted on the Otay-Sweetwater Unit under this alternative.

Alternative C

    Alternative C proposes to expand the opportunities for wildlife-
dependent recreational uses on the Otay-Sweetwater Unit, while 
implementing the same wildlife and habitat management activities 
proposed under Alternative B. Public access would be restricted to the 
designated trail system, which would be expanded slightly under this 
alternative. Unauthorized trails would be decommissioned, as described 
under Alternative B, and all trails within the designated trail system 
would be open to non-motorized multiple use. Also under Alternative C, 
interpretive and environmental education programs would be expanded. 
Hunting, conducted in accordance with refuge-specific regulations, 
would be permitted on portions of the McGinty Mountain, Las 
Monta[ntilde]as, and Otay Mesa and Lakes management areas of the 
Refuge, and dogs would be permitted on the trails, provided they are 
maintained on a leash.

Alternative D (Preferred Alternative)

    Alternative D, the preferred alternative, proposes to optimize 
species and habitat protection, while expanding opportunities for 
compatible public use over those currently provided on the Refuge. 
Under this alternative, in addition to the wildlife and habitat 
management activities proposed under Alternative B, the Refuge would 
implement a feral pig monitoring and eradication plan. No feral pigs 
are currently present on the Refuge, but feral pigs and the damage to 
resources associated with feral pig activity have been identified in 
the San Diego region. The initial implementation of this plan by the 
Refuge would therefore involve monitoring for the presence of pigs, 
with further action on the Refuge becoming necessary only if pigs are 
identified on Refuge lands.
    Existing interpretive and environmental education programs would be 
expanded on the Otay-Sweetwater Unit under Alternative C, and hunting 
for big game (i.e., deer, feral pig), resident small game (i.e., 
rabbits), and resident and migratory upland game birds (e.g., dove, 
quail, wild turkey) is proposed, subject to refuge-specific conditions, 
on a portion of the Otay Mesa and Lakes management area. The designated 
trail system would consist primarily of non-motorized multiple use 
trails, with hiking only trails also provided in a few areas; 
unauthorized trails would be subject to closure. Leashed dogs would 
only be permitted on those trails designated for multiple use.
    Habitat management and public use on the 60-acre Del Mar Mesa 
Vernal Pool Unit would occur in accordance with the City of San Diego's 
Carmel Mountain and Del Mar Mesa Preserves Management Plan under all of 
the action alternatives (i.e., Alternatives B, C, and D).

Public Meetings

    The locations, dates, and times of public meetings will be listed 
in a planning update distributed to the project mailing list and posted 
on the San Diego NWR public Web site at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/San_Diego/what_we_do/planning.html.

Review and Comment

    Copies of the Draft CCP/EA may be obtained by contacting Victoria 
Touchstone (see ADDRESSES). Copies of the Draft CCP/EA may be viewed at 
San Diego NWR Complex office (see ADDRESSES for contact information) 
and local libraries.
    The Draft CCP/EA is also available for viewing and downloading 
online at: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/San_Diego/what_we_do/planning.html. Comments on the Draft CCP/EA should be addressed to 
Victoria Touchstone (see ADDRESSES).

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.

Next Steps

    At the end of the review and comment period for this Draft CCP/EA, 
comments will be analyzed by the Service and addressed in the Final 

Alexandra Pitts,
Acting Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 2014-14323 Filed 6-18-14; 8:45 am]