[Federal Register: January 13, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 8)]
[Page 2229-2230]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Scoping and Public Meetings on Proposed Withdrawal of 
Public Lands; Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of scoping and public meetings.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has filed an application to 
withdraw 5,360 acres of reserved Federal minerals from mining and 
9,459.66 acres of public lands from surface entry and mining as part of 
the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Nye County, Nevada. This land 
has been and will remain open to mineral leasing. The reserved Federal 
minerals and public lands proposed for withdrawal are located within 
the existing boundary of the refuge. The withdrawal has been proposed 
for a period of 20 years to protect seeps, springs, and associated 
habitats for at least 24 plants and animals found nowhere else in the 
world. No private lands or valid existing mineral rights would be 
affected by the proposed withdrawal. This notice advises that the 
Service has scheduled a series of meetings to inform the public of the 
proposed withdrawal. The

[[Page 2230]]

Service is seeking suggestions and information from the public and 
other agencies on the scope of issues related to the proposed 
withdrawal, including the range of alternatives that should be 
considered in the environmental review documents required under the 
National Environmental Policy Act. The Service is also seeking comments 
on other elements related to the future of the refuge including, but 
not limited to, habitat and wildlife management, habitat protection, 
public use, cultural resources, refuge goals, long-range objectives, 
and strategies for achieving refuge purposes. Information on dates and 
deadlines is provided below.

DATES: Comments should be received on or before March 12, 1999. The 
meeting dates are:
5. Wednesday, February 17, 1999, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Las Vegas, NV.
2. Thursday, February 18, 1999, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Pahrump, NV.
3. Thursday, February 18, 1999, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Amargosa 
Valley, NV.

ADDRESSES: Comments regarding the scope of the environmental review 
document and other issue related to the future of the refuge should be 
sent to the Division of Refuge Planning (ARW/RPL), Fish and Wildlife 
Service , 911 N.E. 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97232-4181. See 
Supplementary Information section for electronic access and filing 
addresses. The meeting locations are:

1. Las Vegas, NV--Las Vegas Field Office, Bureau of Land Management, 
4765 Vegas Drive.
5. Pahrump, NV--Bob Ruud Community Center, 150 East Basin Road at 
Highway 160.
5. Amargosa Valley, NV--Amargosa Valley Community Center, 821 East Farm 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Charles J. Houghten, 503-232-2231.


Background Information

    On July 22, 1998 a petition was approved allowing the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service to file an application to withdraw 5,360 acres of 
reserved Federal minerals from location and entry under the mining 
laws, but not the mineral leasing laws, subject to valid existing 
rights, and 9,459.66 acres of public lands from settlement, sale, 
location, or entry under the general land laws, including the mining 
laws, but not the mineral leasing laws, subject to valid existing 
rights. The legal description of these lands is as published in 63 FR 
43190, August 12, 1998. A copy of the legal description is available by 
contacting Charles J. Houghten at the address or phone number listed 
above. The public lands and reserved minerals proposed for withdrawal 
are within the existing boundary of the Ash Meadows National Wildlife 
Refuge, Nye County, Nevada. Private lands within the existing boundary 
are not affected by the proposed withdrawal.
    The Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, located in the Amargosa 
Valley northwest of Pahrump, Nevada, was established in 1984. The 
primary purpose of the refuge is to provide for the protection and 
recovery of endangered fish and plants. At least 24 plants and animals 
that occur here are found nowhere else in the world. This diversity of 
native life distinguishes the Ash Meadows ecosystem as having a greater 
concentration of endemic species than any other local area in the 
United States, and the second greatest in all of North America. Twelve 
of these species are listed under the Endangered Species Act. The 
Service believes that settlement, sale, location, entry, and other 
mining activities would disturb, degrade, or destroy critical surface 
habitat within the refuge. The purpose of the proposed 20-year 
withdrawal is to protect seeps, springs, and associated habitats for 
the 24 plants and animals that are unique to the Ash Meadows ecosystem.
    In addition, by Federal law all lands within the National Wildlife 
Refuge System are to be managed in accordance with an approved 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP). The CCP guides management 
decisions and identifies refuge goals, long-range objectives, and 
strategies for achieving refuge purposes. This planning process may 
consider many elements, including habitat and wildlife management, 
habitat protection, public use, and cultural resources. Public input 
into this planning process is essential. Although a decision to develop 
a CCP for this refuge at this time has not been made, the Service is 
soliciting information from the public regarding issues that should be 
addressed should the decision be made to proceed with the development 
of a CCP. A formal notice of any decision to prepare a CCP will be made 
at a future date.

Scoping and Public Meetings

    Three public meetings have been scheduled. The purpose of these 
meetings is to provide an opportunity for interested persons and 
agencies to comment on the scope of the environmental assessment or 
environmental impact statement and issues related to the proposed 
withdrawal. Each meeting will have an open house format. A brief 
overview of the proposed withdrawal will be presented at the opening of 
the meeting. After this presentation, refuge management, planning, and 
environmental compliance staff will be available to discuss and receive 
comments on the proposed withdrawal.

Electronic Access and Filing Addresses

    You may submit comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to: 
r1planning__guest@fws.gov (Please type ``Ash Meadows'' in the subject 


    This notice is published in accordance with the regulations set 
forth in 43 CFR part 2300, and pursuant to the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), (NEPA 
Regulations 40 CFR parts 1500-1508) to obtain suggestions and 
information from other agencies and the public on the scope of issues 
and alternatives that would be analyzed or considered in preparation of 
an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement, and 
other appropriate Federal laws and regulations, including the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, Executive Order 12996, 
and Service policies and procedures for compliance with those 

    Dated: January 7, 1999.
Dan Walsworth,
Acting Manager, California/Nevada Operations, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 99-727 Filed 1-12-99; 8:45 am]