[Federal Register: August 13, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 156)]
[Page 44367-44382]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

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Part IV

Department of the Interior


Fish and Wildlife Service


Draft Planning Policy Pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act of 1997; Notice

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Fish and Wildlife Service

Draft Planning Policy Pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Improvement Act of 1997

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: We propose to establish requirements and guidance for National 
Wildlife Refuge System planning, including Comprehensive Conservation 
Plans (CCPs) and step-down management plans. This policy, which 
incorporates the CCP provisions of the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act of 1997 (NWRSIA-1997), will replace Part 602 Chapters 
1, 2, and 3 of the Fish and Wildlife Service Manual.
    Our policy for managing units of the National Wildlife Refuge 
System (System) is that we will manage all refuges in accordance with 
an approved CCP that: guides management decisions; sets forth goals, 
objectives, and strategies for achieving refuge purposes; contributes 
to the mission of the System; and meets other relevant mandates. We 
also may require step-down management plans to provide additional 
details about meeting goals and objectives and implementing management 
strategies identified in CCPs. Each plan will be consistent with 
principles of sound fish and wildlife management, available science, 
legal mandates, and our other policies, guidelines, and planning 

DATES: Submit comments on or before October 12, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Send comments concerning this draft planning policy via 
mail, fax or e-mail to: Chief, Division of Refuges, US Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 670, Arlington, 
Virginia 22203; fax (703) 358-2248; e-mail: 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Liz Bellantoni, Refuge Planning 
Coordinator, Division of Refuges, US Fish and Wildlife Service, 
telephone (703) 358-2422.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The NWRSIA-1997 amends and builds upon the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, providing 
an ``Organic Act'' for the National Wildlife Refuge System. It clearly 
establishes that wildlife conservation is the singular mission of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System; provides guidance to the Secretary of 
the Interior for management of the National Wildlife Refuge System; 
reinforces the importance of comprehensive planning for all units of 
the National Wildlife Refuge System; and gives refuge managers uniform 
direction and procedures for making decisions regarding wildlife 
conservation and uses of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Planning and the NWRSIA-1997

    We will develop a CCP for each refuge or related complex of refuges 
by October 2012 and will revise each plan every 15 years thereafter or 
sooner as necessary. The NWRSIA-1997 also requires that we provide an 
opportunity for active public involvement during the preparation and 
revision of CCPs. These plans will guide management decisions and 
establish strategies for achieving the mission of the System and the 
purposes of each refuge unit.
    The NWRSIA-1997 includes a number of provisions that specifically 
address planning. The following is a summary of those provisions and 
how they apply to us.
    In general, we will propose a CCP for each refuge or related 
complex of refuges. For each proposed plan we will publish a notice of 
opportunity for public comment in the Federal Register. We will issue a 
final CCP for each planning unit consistent with the provisions of the 
NWRSIA-1997 and, to the extent practicable, consistent with the fish 
and wildlife and conservation plans of the State in which the refuge is 
located. We will revise the CCP every 15 years after issuance or sooner 
as necessary.
    We shall manage each refuge or planning unit under plans in effect 
on the date of enactment of the NWRSIA-1997, to the extent such plans 
are consistent with the NWRSIA-1997, until new CCPs revise or supercede 
these plans. Uses or activities consistent with the NWRSIA-1997 may 
occur on any refuge or planning unit before we revise existing plans or 
issue new CCPs. Upon completion of a CCP for a refuge or planning unit, 
we shall manage the refuge or planning unit in a manner consistent with 
the CCP and revise the plan at any time if we determine that conditions 
affecting the refuge or planning unit have changed significantly.
    In developing each CCP for a planning unit, the plan shall identify 
and describe: the purposes of each refuge comprising the planning unit; 
the distribution, migration patterns, and abundance of fish, wildlife, 
and plant populations and related habitats within the planning unit; 
the archaeological and cultural values of the planning unit; such areas 
within the planning unit that are suitable for use as administrative 
sites or visitor facilities; significant problems that may adversely 
affect the populations and habitats of fish, wildlife, and plants 
within the planning unit and the actions necessary to correct or 
mitigate such problems; and opportunities for compatible wildlife-
dependent recreational uses.
    In preparing and revising each CCP, we shall, to the maximum extent 
practicable and consistent with the NWRSIA-1997, consult with adjoining 
Federal, State, local, and private landowners and affected State 
conservation agencies. We shall also coordinate the development of the 
CCP or revision with relevant State conservation plans for fish and 
wildlife and their habitats.
    We shall develop and implement a process to ensure active public 
involvement in the preparation and revision of CCPs. At a minimum, the 
publication of any final CCP shall include a summary of the comments 
made by States, owners of adjacent or potentially affected land, local 
governments, and any other affected persons, and a statement of the 
disposition of concerns expressed in those comments.
    Prior to the adoption of each CCP, we shall issue a public notice 
of the draft proposed CCP, make copies of the CCP available at our 
field and regional offices, and provide opportunity for public comment.

Purpose of This Draft Policy

    This draft policy would establish requirements and guidance for 
National Wildlife Refuge System planning, including CCPs and step-down 
plans, and ensure that planning efforts comply with the provisions of 
the NWRSIA-1997. This draft planning policy describes a systematic 
decision-making process that fulfills the requirements we are 
establishing for developing a CCP. It is not the intent of this policy 
to provide step-by-step direction on how to prepare a CCP but rather to 
establish the requirements and standards to which we will hold all 

Fish and Wildlife Service Directives System

    Because many of our field stations are in remote areas across the 
United States, it is important that all employees have available and 
know the current policy and management directives that affect their 
daily activities. Our Directives System, consisting of the Fish and 
Wildlife Service Manual, Director's Orders, and National Policy 
Issuances, is the vehicle for issuing our standing and continuing 
policy and management

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directives. We post new directives on the Internet upon approval, 
ensuring that all employees have prompt access to the most current 
    The Fish and Wildlife Service Manual contains our standing and 
continuing directives with which our employees must comply and has 
force and effect within the Service. We use it to implement our 
authorities and to ``step down'' our compliance with statutes, 
executive orders, and departmental directives. It establishes the 
requirements and procedures to assist our employees in carrying out our 
authorities, responsibilities, and activities.
    We limit Director's orders to temporary policy, procedures, 
delegations of authority, emergency regulations, special assignments of 
functions, and initial functional statements on the establishment of 
new organizational units. We convert all Director's orders, as needed, 
to appropriate parts of the Fish and Wildlife Service Manual. We 
generally do not issue material appropriate for immediate inclusion in 
the Fish and Wildlife Service Manual as a Director's order.
    National Policy Issuances promulgate the Director's national 
policies for managing the Service and our programs. These policies are 
necessarily broad and generally require management discretion or 
judgment in their implementation. They represent the Director's 
expectations of how we will act in carrying out our official 
    The Fish and Wildlife Service Manual, Director's Orders, and 
National Policy Issuances are available on the Internet at http://
www.fws.gov/directives/direct.html. When finalized, we will incorporate 
this policy on National Wildlife Refuge System planning into the Fish 
and Wildlife Service Manual as Part 602 Chapters 1, 2, and 3.

Comment Solicitation

    If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments by any one of 
several methods. You may mail comments to: Chief, Division of Refuges, 
US Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 670, 
Arlington, Virginia 22203. You may comment via the Internet to: 
Planning__Policy__Comments@fws.gov. Please submit Internet comments as 
an ASCII file avoiding the use of special characters and any form of 
encryption. Please also include your name and return address in your 
Internet message. If you do not receive a confirmation from the system 
that we have received your Internet message, contact us directly at 
(703) 358-1744. You may also fax comments to: Chief, Division of 
Refuges, (703) 358-2248. Finally, you may hand-deliver comments to the 
address mentioned above.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their home address from the record, which we will honor to the extent 
allowable by law. There also may be circumstances in which we would 
withhold from the record a respondent's identity, as allowable by law. 
If you wish us to withhold your name and/or address, you must state 
this prominently at the beginning of your comment. However, we will not 
consider anonymous comments. We will make all submissions from 
organizations or businesses and from individuals identifying themselves 
as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, 
available for public inspection in their entirety.
    We seek public comments on this draft planning policy and will take 
into consideration comments and any additional information received 
during the 60-day comment period.
    We will send a copy of the draft Fish and Wildlife Service Manual 
chapters on National Wildlife Refuge System planning to anyone who 
would like to receive them. In addition, these chapters will be 
available on the National Wildlife Refuge System web site (http://
refuges.fws.gov [select link to ``Library,'' then link to ``Service 
Manual/Policy--Draft Chapters'']) during the 60-day comment period.
    Primary Author: Elizabeth Bellantoni, Fish and Wildlife Biologist 
(Refuge Planning Coordinator), Division of Refuges, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, is the primary author of this notice.

    Dated: July 14, 1999.
John G. Rogers,

Refuge Management

Part 602  National Wildlife Refuge System Planning

Chapter 1  Refuge Planning Overview

602 FW 1

    1.1  What is the purpose of Part 602? Part 602 provides guidance 
for National Wildlife Refuge System (System) planning, including 
specific chapters on Comprehensive Conservation Plans (CCPs) and step-
down management plans. This chapter (602 FW 1) provides an overview of 
refuge planning.
    1.2  What does Part 602 apply to? Part 602 applies to all units of 
the National Wildlife Refuge System.
    1.3  What is our policy for managing refuges? We will manage all 
refuges in accordance with an approved CCP that guides management 
decisions and sets forth goals, objectives, and strategies, which when 
implemented will achieve refuge purposes, contribute to the System 
mission, and meet all other relevant mandates. We also may require 
step-down management plans to provide additional details about meeting 
goals and objectives and implementing management strategies identified 
in CCPs. Each plan will be consistent with principles of sound fish and 
wildlife management, available science, legal mandates, and our other 
policies, guidelines, and planning documents.
    1.4  What are our authorities? Authorities listed below include 
laws that require us to manage units of the System in accordance with 
approved CCPs and to integrate refuge planning decisions with the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.
    A. National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 as 
amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, 
16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee (Refuge Administration Act). This law states that 
`` * * * the Secretary shall--(i) propose a comprehensive conservation 
plan for each refuge or related complex of refuges * * * in the System; 
(ii) publish a notice of opportunity for public comment in the Federal 
Register on each proposed conservation plan; (iii) issue a final 
conservation plan for each planning unit consistent with the provisions 
of this Act and, to the extent practicable, consistent with fish and 
wildlife conservation plans of the State in which the refuge is 
located; and (iv) not less frequently than 15 years after the date of 
issuance of a conservation plan under clause (iii) and every 15 years 
thereafter, revise the conservation plan as may be necessary.'' This 
law provides additional detail on conservation planning for the System.
    B. Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 as 
amended, 16 U.S.C. 140hh-3233, 43 U.S.C. 1602-1784 (ANILCA). Section 
304 states, in part, ``The Secretary shall prepare, and from time to 
time, revise, a comprehensive conservation plan * * * for each 
refuge.'' Find additional guidance on the content of these plans and on 
management direction in this and other sections of ANILCA. If any 
provisions of the Refuge Administration Act conflict with the 
provisions of

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ANILCA, the provisions of ANILCA shall prevail for refuges in Alaska.
    C. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended, 42 
U.S.C. 4321-4347, and the Council on Environmental Quality's (CEQ) 
Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA, 40 CFR 
1500-1508. NEPA is the basic national charter for the protection of the 
environment (NEPA, section 2). The procedural provisions in CEQ's 
regulations require Federal agencies to: integrate the NEPA process 
with other planning at the earliest possible time in order to provide a 
systematic interdisciplinary approach; identify and analyze 
environmental effects of their actions; describe appropriate 
alternatives to the proposal; involve the affected State and Federal 
agencies, Indian tribes, and the affected public in the planning and 
decision making process; and fully integrate all refuge proposals that 
may have an impact on the environment with the procedural provisions of 
NEPA (40 CFR 1501.2).
    1.5  What are the goals of refuge planning?
    A. To help ensure that we manage the System for the conservation of 
fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats; and that refuge management 
accomplishes our policies, the System mission, and the purposes for 
which we established the refuge.
    B. To help ensure that the administration of the System contributes 
to the conservation of biological diversity and integrity and to the 
structure and function of the ecosystems of the United States.
    C. To help ensure that our other programs; Federal, State, and 
local agencies; Tribal governments; conservation organizations; 
adjacent landowners; and the public have opportunities to participate 
in the refuge planning process.
    D. To provide a basis for adaptive management by monitoring 
progress, evaluating plan implementation, and updating refuge plans 
    E. To promote efficiency, effectiveness, continuity and national 
consistency in refuge management.
    F. To help ensure consistent Systemwide consideration of the six 
priority general public uses--hunting, fishing, wildlife observation 
and photography, and environmental education and interpretation--
established by the Refuge Administration Act.

1.6   What do the following terms mean? (Quotations are from the 
Refuge Administration Act)

    A. Alternative. Alternatives are different means of accomplishing 
refuge purposes and goals, contributing to the System mission, and 
resolving issues.
    B. Comprehensive Conservation Plan/CCP. A document that describes 
the desired future conditions of the refuge and provides long-range 
guidance and management direction to accomplish the purposes of the 
refuge, contribute to the mission of the System, and meet other 
relevant mandates.
    C. Coordination Area. A wildlife management area that is made 
available to a State, by ``(A) cooperative agreement between the United 
States Fish and Wildlife Service and the State fish and game agency 
pursuant to section 4 of the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 
U.S.C. 664); or (B) by long-term leases or agreements pursuant to the 
Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act (50 Stat. 525; 7 U.S.C. 1010 et seq.).'' 
States manage coordination areas but they are part of the Refuge 
System. We do not require CCPs for Coordination Areas.
    D. Goal. Descriptive, open-ended, and often broad statement of 
desired future conditions that conveys a purpose but does not define 
measurable units.
    E. Issue. Any unsettled matter that requires a management decision, 
e.g., an initiative, opportunity, resource management problem, threat 
to the resources of the unit, conflict in uses, public concern, or the 
presence of an undesirable resource condition.
    F. National Wildlife Refuge (refuge). ``A designated area of land, 
water, or an interest in land or water within the System, but does not 
include Coordination Areas.'' Find a complete listing of all units of 
the System in the current Annual Report of Lands Under Control of the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    G. National Wildlife Refuge System Mission (mission). ``The mission 
of the System is to administer a national network of lands and waters 
for the conservation, management and, where appropriate, restoration of 
the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the 
United States for the benefit of present and future generations of 
    H. Objective. An objective is a concise statement of what we want 
to achieve, how much we want to achieve, when and where we want to 
achieve it, and who is responsible for the work. Objectives derive from 
goals and provide the basis for determining management strategies, 
monitoring refuge accomplishments, and evaluating the success of the 
strategies. Make your objectives attainable and time-specific and state 
them quantitatively to the extent possible. If you cannot state 
objectives quantitatively, state them qualitatively.
    I. Planning Area. A planning area may include lands outside 
existing planning unit boundaries currently studied for inclusion in 
the System and/or partnership planning efforts. It may also include 
watersheds or ecosystems that affect the planning unit.
    J. Planning Team. Planning teams are interdisciplinary in 
membership and function. Teams generally consist of a Planning Team 
Leader; Refuge Manager and staff biologists; and other appropriate 
specialists (e.g., social scientist, ecologist, recreation specialist). 
Team members may come from our other programs and other Federal, 
Tribal, and State natural resource agencies. The planning team prepares 
the CCP.
    K. Planning Team Leader. The Planning Team Leader typically is a 
professional planner or natural resource specialist knowledgeable of 
the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and 
who has planning experience. The Planning Team Leader manages the 
refuge planning process.
    L. Planning Unit. A single refuge, an ecologically/administratively 
related refuge complex or distinct unit of a refuge.
    M. Purposes of the Refuge. ``The purposes specified in or derived 
from the law, proclamation, executive order, agreement, public land 
order, donation document, or administrative memorandum establishing, 
authorizing, or expanding a refuge, refuge unit, or refuge subunit.''
    N. Refuge Operating Needs System (RONS). The Refuge Operating Needs 
System is a national database which contains the unfunded operational 
needs of each refuge. We include projects required to implement 
approved plans, and meet goals, objectives, and legal mandates.
    O. Step-down Management Plans. Step-down management plans deal with 
specific management subjects (e.g., habitat, public use, fire, safety) 
or groups of related subjects. Step-down management plans describe 
management strategies and implementation schedules.
    P. Strategy. A specific action, tool or technique or combination of 
actions, tools, and techniques used to meet unit objectives.
    Q. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mission. Our mission is working 

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others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish and wildlife and their 
habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
    R. Wildlife-Dependent Recreational Use. ``A use of a refuge 
involving hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, or 
environmental education and interpretation.'' These uses are the six 
priority general public uses of the Refuge System as established in the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act.
    S. Vision Statement. A concise statement of what the planning unit 
could be, or what we could do, in the next 10 to 15 years, based 
primarily upon the System mission and specific refuge purposes, and 
other relevant mandates.
    1.7  What is the relationship between the Refuge System, and other 
planning efforts? Refuge planning should maintain continuity and 
consistency with other planning initiatives. The relationship between 
these planning efforts is hierarchical, starting from national plans to 
regional, State, and ecoregion level plans stepping down to refuge-
specific planning. See Exhibit 1. The process of adaptive management 
uses feedback from refuge research and monitoring, and evaluation of 
management actions to support or modify goals, objectives, and 
strategies at all planning levels.
    A. National and Regional Plans. Opportunities and issues to address 
in refuge planning will consider other Service documents that address 
particular programs, species, habitats, public uses, economic uses, 
archaeological resources, etc. National and regional goals, objectives, 
strategies, and policies influence management planning for refuges. 
Source documents include the Service Manual, the North American 
Waterfowl Management Plan, National Outreach Strategy, regional 
resource plans, endangered species recovery plans, migratory bird and 
flyway plans, fishery resource plans, joint venture plans, Partners in 
Flight plans, and strategies to promote the conservation of natural 
biological diversity. The contribution of the refuge to achieving 
regional and national goals will help implement our mission and ensure 
the integrity of the System.
    B. Service Ecoregion Plans, State Fish and Wildlife Conservation 
Plans, and Other Landscape Level Plans. Refuge planning will reflect 
conservation goals and objectives for the landscapes in which the 
refuges are located. Refuges must review goals and objectives of 
existing ecosystem plans and determine how the refuge can best 
contribute to the functioning of the ecosystem. Coordinate refuge 
planning with State conservation agencies, Tribal governments, other 
government agencies, and non-governmental organizations. To the extent 
practicable, the plans will be consistent with the fish and wildlife 
conservation plans of the State and the conservation programs of 
Tribal, public, and private partners within the ecosystem.
    C. Land Acquisition Planning.
    (1) Refuge planning typically begins before the establishment of an 
area as a unit of the System. Land acquisition planning, (usually 
resulting in a Land Protection Plan (LPP) and associated NEPA document) 
is a preliminary step in the continuous, integrated refuge planning 
process. This process eventually results in completion of a CCP and 
appropriate refuge step-down plans. Other land use, species, or habitat 
protection planning efforts, or legislative or executive directive may 
precede land acquisition planning. Initial refuge establishment 
documentation (LPP and associated NEPA document) should identify the 
approved refuge boundary, refuge purpose(s), goals, and general 
management direction.
    (2) Planning for proposed new refuges or major expansions to 
existing refuges not undergoing a CCP will include the development of a 
Conceptual Management Plan (CMP) for the new unit. We design the CMP to 
provide general, interim management direction. The CMP should identify 
refuge purpose(s), interim goals, and pre-existing compatible wildlife-
dependent recreational uses that we may allow to continue on an interim 
basis. We define the interim period as the duration of time between 
establishment of a new refuge or refuge expansion and the completion of 
an approved CCP. Fully integrate land acquisition planning efforts into 
CCP preparation whenever possible. Some proposed new refuges or refuge 
expansions may warrant CCP development at the time of acquisition 
planning. Include appropriate Realty staff on the planning team when 
considering land acquisition during the CCP process to ensure 
consistency with land acquisition policy. Also see 341 FW 2.
    D. Comprehensive Conservation Plans (CCP). The CCP is a document 
that describes the desired future conditions of the refuge and provides 
long-range guidance and management direction for the Refuge Manager to 
accomplish the purposes of the refuge, contribute to the mission of the 
System, and to meet other relevant mandates. See 602 FW 2. For refuges 
established after October 9, 1997, prepare CCPs when the refuge obtains 
staff and acquires a land base sufficient to accomplish refuge 
purposes, but no later than 15 years after we establish the refuge. 
Convert refuge long-range management plans (e.g., master plans and 
refuge management plans), approved prior to October 9, 1997, into CCPs 
with appropriate public involvement and NEPA compliance no later than 
October 2012.
    E. Step-down Management Plans. Step-down management plans provide 
the details necessary to implement management strategies identified in 
the CCP. CCPs will either incorporate or identify step-down plans 
required to fully implement the CCP. After completion of the CCP, 
modify existing step-down plans to accomplish stated objectives as 
needed. See 602 FW 3.
    F. Integration with Budget Development and Implementation. We will 
use CCPs to guide annual budget requests. We will identify the unfunded 
costs of implementing strategies in refuge plans using our budget 
databases, including the Refuge Operating Needs System (RONS), 
Maintenance Management System (MMS), and Land Acquisition Priority 
System (LAPS). As we complete or update each plan, we will review and 
update these databases to incorporate projects identified in refuge 
plans. The total funding and staffing identified in these databases 
represents the additional resources required to fully implement the 
refuge plans.
    1.8  Who are the responsible officials?
    A. Director. The Director is responsible for providing national 
policy and ensuring adherence to refuge planning policy.
    B. Regional Director. The Regional Director: (1) Ensures compliance 
with national planning policy, NEPA, and other applicable laws and 
policies; (2) approves CCPs and associated NEPA and other agency 
compliance documents; and (3) ensures that we manage refuges in 
accordance with approved CCPs. The Regional Director or designee 
approves step-down plans, determines planning priorities and allocates 
funds to develop and implement plans.
    C. Refuge Programmatic Assistant Regional Director (PARD)/
Geographic Assistant Regional Director (GARD). The Refuges and Wildlife 
Program Assistant Regional Directors are responsible for initiating and 
completing refuge plans, budgeting for planning, ensuring programmatic 
staff participation, and developing planning priorities with input from 
the Geographic Assistant Regional

[[Page 44372]]

Directors. The Geographic Assistant Regional Directors are responsible 
for ensuring that ecosystem teams participate in developing plans and 
implementing approved plans.
    D. Refuge Planning Coordinators. The Washington Office, Division of 
Refuges and each Region will designate a Refuge Planning Coordinator. 
The Coordinators will periodically meet as a national team to review 
and recommend changes to planning policy, resolve common planning 
problems and issues, and help ensure national consistency. In 
cooperation with representatives of our National Conservation Training 
Center, the Coordinators will establish and maintain appropriate 
training courses. Refuge Planning Coordinators will provide guidance 
and direction to assist regional and field-based planning staff and 
planning team members. The coordinators are also responsible for 
maintaining regional planning schedules and updating status reports and 
funding needs for the planning program.
    E. Planning Team Leader. The Planning Team Leader is responsible 
for initiation of the planning process, preparation and completion of 
refuge plans, and associated compliance requirements. The Planning Team 
Leader is responsible for identifying appropriate and proper 
representation on the interdisciplinary planning team, including core 
team members, support personnel, and outside or contract assistance. 
The Refuge Manager and Planning Team Leader submit the final CCP 
through line supervision for concurrence and approval by the Regional 
    F. Refuge Supervisor. The Refuge Supervisor is responsible for 
overseeing participation of the Refuge Manager in CCP preparation and 
implementation, and for providing direction and guidance on compliance 
with System policy and regulations.
    G. Refuge Manager. The Refuge Manager prepares the CCP working 
closely with the Planning Team Leader. The Refuge Manager assures that 
the refuge staff participates in plan development. The Refuge Manager 
and Planning Team Leader submit the final CCP through line supervision 
for concurrence and approval by the Regional Director. The Refuge 
Manager is responsible for making compatibility determinations and 
ensuring that agency compliance requirements are met and that the CCP, 
when implemented, will achieve the purposes of the refuge and will 
contribute to fulfilling the System mission. The Refuge Manager is 
responsible for implementing approved comprehensive and step-down 
plans, monitoring progress, and recommending changes to plans based on 
monitoring and evaluation. The Refuge Manager also reports plan 
accomplishments through standard reporting mechanisms and budgeting 
    H. Planning Team. The planning team, coordinated by the Planning 
Team Leader, is responsible for the initiation and completion of all 
planning steps, including public involvement and NEPA compliance, 
resulting in a refuge CCP. We describe the steps in 602 FW 2.4 C.
    I. Regional Environmental (NEPA) Coordinator. The Regional 
Environmental (NEPA) Coordinator provides technical assistance on NEPA-
related matters.


[[Page 44373]]



[[Page 44374]]

Refuge Management

Part 602 National Wildlife Refuge System Planning

Chapter 2 Comprehensive Conservation Planning Process

602 FW 2

    2.1  What is the purpose of this chapter? Comprehensive 
Conservation Plans (CCPs) describe the desired future conditions of a 
refuge, and provide long-range guidance and management direction for 
the Refuge Manager to accomplish the purposes of the refuge, contribute 
to the mission of the System, and meet other relevant mandates. The 
purpose of this chapter is to describe a systematic decision-making 
process that fulfills the requirements we are establishing for 
developing a CCP. It is not the intent of this policy to provide step-
by-step direction on how to prepare a CCP but rather to establish the 
requirements and standards to which we will hold all CCPs. Experienced 
planners lead the CCP process. We strongly encourage the Refuge Manager 
and other key planning team members to attend the National Conservation 
Training Center (NCTC) course on Refuge Comprehensive Conservation 
    2.2  What is our policy for CCPs? We will prepare a CCP for each 
refuge in existence as of October 9, 1997, by October 2012. For refuges 
established after October 9, 1997, we will prepare CCPs when we staff 
the refuge and acquire a land base sufficient to accomplish refuge 
purposes, but no later than 15 years after establishment of the refuge. 
To the extent practicable, we will coordinate the development of CCPs 
with affected States. We will continue to manage each refuge or 
planning unit with existing plans effective prior to October 9, 1997, 
to the extent these plans are consistent with the Refuge Administration 
Act, until we revise such plans or new CCPs supercede them. Upon 
completion of a CCP, we will manage the refuge or planning unit in a 
manner consistent with the CCP. We will revise the CCP every 15 years 
thereafter, or earlier, if conditions that affect the refuge or 
planning unit change significantly.
    2.3  What are our goals for Comprehensive Conservation Planning?
    A. To provide a clear and comprehensive statement of desired future 
conditions for each refuge or planning unit.
    B. To help ensure that we manage each refuge to fulfill the mission 
of the System as well as the specific purposes for which we established 
that refuge.
    C. To encourage that we conduct refuge planning in concert with an 
ecosystem approach. This includes conducting concurrent refuge planning 
for refuges within the same watershed or ecosystem, and to consider the 
broader goals and objectives of the ecoregion, ecosystems and 
watersheds in which refuges are located when developing management 
    D. To support management decisions and their rationale by sound 
professional judgment.
    E. To provide a forum for the public to comment on the type, 
extent, and compatibility of uses on refuges.
    F. To provide a uniform basis for budget requests for operational, 
maintenance, and capital improvement programs.
    G. To ensure public involvement in refuge management decisions by 
providing a process for effective coordination, interaction, and 
cooperation with affected parties, including Federal agencies, State 
conservation agencies, Tribal governments, local governments, 
conservation organizations, adjacent landowners, and interested members 
of the public.
    2.4  What is the Comprehensive Conservation Planning process?
    A. The Comprehensive Conservation Planning process (see Exhibit 1) 
provides consistent guidelines for developing CCPs. We designed the 
planning process to result in the development of vision statements, 
goals, objectives, and management strategies that achieve refuge or 
planning unit purpose(s), contribute to the fulfillment of the System 
mission, and meet other relevant mandates.
    B. Each CCP will comply with the provisions of the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) through the concurrent preparation of 
an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement 
(EIS) that will accompany or be integrated with the CCP. We have 
integrated NEPA compliance requirements directly into the CCP planning 
process. When preparing an EA, consider integrating it into the draft 
CCP. When preparing an EIS with a CCP, integrate the documents. See 
Exhibit 1. Following completion of the final CCP/NEPA document, the 
product of the Comprehensive Conservation Planning process will be a 
stand-alone CCP, separate from the EA or EIS.
    C. Our Comprehensive Conservation Planning process consists of the 
following eight steps. Although we display the steps sequentially, CCP 
planning and NEPA documentation are iterative processes. It is normal 
to cycle through some of the steps more than once or to have several 
steps occurring simultaneously. Actions within each of the eight steps 
may not be sequential.

(1) Preplanning: Plan the Plan

    (a) Planning Team. Assemble the planning team, including the 
Planning Team Leader, the Refuge Manager and key staff members, and 
appropriate support staff or specialists from both regional and 
ecosystem teams (e.g., fisheries, cultural resources, endangered 
species, external affairs/outreach, realty, contaminants, migratory 
birds, water resources, etc.). The planning team also may include 
representatives from appropriate State or Tribal conservation agencies, 
and any agency that may have a direct land management relationship with 
the refuge.
    (b) Identify Planning and Compliance Requirements and Special 
Designations. The planning team will identify planning and compliance 
requirements by reviewing our mission statements and those of the 
System, as well as refuge purposes and establishing legislation of the 
refuge. See Exhibit 2 for a list of laws and Executive Orders that may 
apply and Exhibit 3 for a checklist of elements we must include within 
a CCP. The planning team will identify and review other relevant 
mandates including laws, executive orders, regulations, and our 
policies, especially those with compliance requirements. The planning 
team also will review any existing special designation areas such as 
wilderness, research natural areas, wild and scenic rivers, wetlands of 
international importance, Western Hemisphere shorebird reserves, etc., 
and will specifically address the potential for any new special 
designations. Concurrent with the CCP process we will conduct a 
wilderness review and incorporate a summary of the review into the CCP. 
Refer to the wilderness section of the manual (Part 610) for guidance.
    (c) Purpose and Need for the Plan. The purpose of developing the 
CCP is to provide the Refuge Manager with a 15-year management plan for 
the conservation of fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their 
related habitats, while providing opportunities for compatible 
wildlife-dependent recreational uses. The CCP, when fully implemented, 
should achieve planning unit purpose(s), contribute to the mission of 
the System, and address any relevant mandates. The CCP must be specific 
to the planning unit and identify the overarching wildlife, public, or 
management needs for the refuge.

[[Page 44375]]

    (d) Planning Area, Data Needs, and Data Standards. Identify the 
relationship between the planning unit and its ecosystem(s) as well as 
relationships between the refuge and any other refuges or protected 
areas. Identify data available to address issues discussed in Step (g) 
Internal Scoping. You do not need to develop new data for the CCP; the 
CCP can identify the need for further data collection as a part of plan 
implementation and refinement. Identify and describe the following as 
appropriate (also see Exhibit 3).
    (i) Distribution, migration patterns, and abundance of fish, 
wildlife, and plant populations, including any threatened or endangered 
species, and related habitats.
    (ii) Significant problems that may adversely affect the populations 
and habitats of fish, wildlife, and plants found within the planning 
unit and the actions necessary to correct or mitigate the problems.
    (iii) Diversity of habitats and natural communities.
    (iv) Archaeological and cultural resources.
    (v) Land acquisition or habitat protection efforts.
    (vi) Habitat management practices.
    (vii) Natural and historic role of fire and other major disturbance 
agents affecting ecological processes.
    (viii) Water resources including quality and quantity.
    (ix) Known or suspected sources of environmental contaminants and 
their potential impacts on the planning unit (refer to the Contaminant 
Assessment Program).
    (x) Opportunities for compatible wildlife-dependent recreation.
    (xi) Potential need for administrative sites or visitor facilities.
    (xii) Existing administrative resources, including staffing, 
funding, and facilities.
    (xiii) Existing special management areas, or the potential for such 
designations (e.g., wilderness, research natural areas, and wild and 
scenic rivers).
    (e) Review all available information, plans, data, maps, and data 
standards. Based on this review, determine what the initial planning 
area should include and identify any additional information and data 
needs, including mapping and GIS needs. Note: All Federal agencies and 
their contractors must comply with data standards endorsed by the 
Federal Geographic Data Committee (Executive Order 12906; 59 FR 17671, 
April 13, 1994). Of particular relevance to refuge planning are the 
Vegetation Classification Standard (FGDC-STD-005) and the 
Classification of Wetlands and Deep Water Habitats (FGDC-STD-004). 
Compliance with these standards will facilitate the sharing and 
exchange of high-quality vegetation and wetland data among Federal 
agencies and their partners. We also are developing other data 
standards, such as cartographic standards for delineation of refuge 
boundaries and land status.
    (f) Vision and Goals. Review the existing planning unit vision 
statement and goals and determine the need for revision. If these do 
not exist, prepare draft vision and goals for consideration during 
public scoping. At a minimum each refuge should develop goals within 
the following management areas: habitat; fish, wildlife, and plant 
populations; compatible wildlife-dependent recreation; and other 
relevant mandates (such as refuge-specific legislation, executive 
orders, special area designations, etc.). In some cases, one or more of 
these areas will not require goal statements because opportunities do 
not exist in the management area. Goals will reflect planning unit 
purposes, contribute to the mission of the System, and will be 
consistent with relevant mandates and principles of sound fish and 
wildlife management. Planning unit goals will also reflect ecosystem 
goals to the extent these goals do not conflict with the System mission 
or the purposes for which we established the refuge. We also may 
develop refuge goals for our relevant mandates. Subsequently, we will 
develop objectives and strategies for planning unit goals (see 602 FW 
2.5 (D)(a) Objective Development). For additional information on 
developing goals and objectives, see the Writing Refuge Management 
Goals and Objectives: A Handbook (March 1996).
    (g) Internal Scoping. The planning team begins the internal scoping 
process by identifying management concerns, issues, and opportunities 
to resolve them, as well as any potential impacts and alternatives that 
we may need to address in the CCP and the NEPA analysis. Identify any 
significant problems that may adversely affect the populations and 
habitats of fish, wildlife, and plants found within the planning unit 
(including candidate, threatened, and endangered species) and the 
actions necessary to correct or mitigate such problems. Make a 
preliminary assessment of water quality and quantity issues. See 403 
FW1-3. Identify the potential need for administrative sites or visitor 
facilities, and land acquisition. Review the background, rationale, and 
the success or failure of any controversial management actions, and 
determine whether you need more information or data. Identify any 
additional information and data needed where appropriate.
    (h) Public Involvement/Outreach Planning. The planning team will 
prepare a Public Involvement/Outreach Plan indicating how and when we 
will invite the affected public to participate in the development of 
the CCP. Establish a mailing list. Identify appropriate techniques and 
materials to use in public involvement efforts. Public involvement and 
outreach are integrated into each step and will continue throughout the 
planning process. For additional information on public involvement 
techniques, consult the Public Participation Handbook (U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 1985) or the NCTC Refuge Comprehensive Conservation 
Planning Course Handbook and Reference Notebook.
    (i) Work Plan/Planning Schedule. Establish a work plan or planning 
schedule for the project. Determine who will be responsible for 
carrying out identified tasks, gathering information and data, and 
preparing products identified in the work plan or schedule. Identify 
all key NEPA compliance steps and public involvement activities. 
Identify any additional expertise, besides the planning team, required 
to prepare the CCP. This may include an economist, a facilitator for 
public and other meetings, contracted professional services, etc.
    (j) Planning Record. Establish a Planning Record to document the 
preparation of the CCP and NEPA compliance, and assign its maintenance 
to a team member. The Planning Record will serve as a valuable 
reference source and provide important background and historical 
information. If there is a legal challenge to the CCP, use the Planning 
Record to construct the Administrative Record. For additional 
information on the Planning Record, consult the NCTC Refuge 
Comprehensive Conservation Planning Course Handbook and Reference 

(2) Initiate Public Involvement and Scoping

    (a) Notice of Intent. Prepare a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a 
CCP, with appropriate NEPA compliance, and publish the notice in the 
Federal Register. The notice initiates public scoping for the CCP/NEPA 
planning and decision-making process. If we initially determine that we 
will prepare an EIS for the CCP, the NOI should specify that. If at any 
time during the planning process we decide to prepare an EIS, we will 
publish a NOI to prepare an EIS in the Federal Register. A 30-day 
comment period will follow this notice.

[[Page 44376]]

    (b) Public Scoping. Using news releases to the local media and 
other appropriate means, notify the affected public of the opportunity 
to participate in the preparation of the CCP and begin the scoping 
process. Conduct public involvement activities and gather public 
comments on any existing planning unit vision statements, goals, and 
objectives. Encourage the public to help identify potential issues, 
management actions and concerns, significant problems or impacts, and 
opportunities or alternatives to resolve them.
    (c) Issues and Data Needs. Analyze all comments gathered and 
recorded during the scoping process. Identify any new issues, concerns, 
or significant problems, opportunities to resolve them, and potential 
refinements or revisions of existing planning unit vision statements, 
goals, and objectives. Based on this analysis, identify any additional 
information and data needed.

(3) Review Vision Statement and Goals and Determine Significant 

    (a) Vision and Goals. Review and evaluate the public's comments on 
the planning unit vision statement and goals. Based on this review, 
modify the vision and goals for the planning unit as appropriate. See 
602 FW2.5A(5).
    (b) Determine Significant Issues. Review and evaluate all potential 
issues, management concerns, and problems and the opportunities to 
resolve them that the planning team or the public have identified. 
Identify those issues and concerns that are significant and that the 
CCP and associated NEPA document will address. Document the rationale 
for selecting significant issues, as well as the rationale for not 
selecting the other issues and concerns (e.g., outside the scope of the 
CCP, does not contribute to meeting refuge purposes/mission, etc.).
    (4) Develop and Analyze Alternatives, Including the Proposed 
Action. This part of the process is not sequential, it is iterative. 
Iterations of issue assessment; refinement and development of goals, 
objectives, and strategies; analysis and comparison of impacts and 
benefits of management actions; and the packaging or combining of 
similar themes or programs to develop preliminary alternatives result 
in the development of alternative management plans, and assessment of 
their environmental consequences. Start the process by defining the No 
Action or Continuation of Current Management Alternative. The 
alternatives should reflect different sets of strategies and actions to 
achieve refuge purposes, goals and objectives. Consider presenting this 
information in a matrix comparing issues, impacts, and benefits for 
each alternative.
    (a) No Action Alternative. Define the No Action Alternative, which 
usually will be a continuation of current planning unit management 
strategies, fish, wildlife, plant populations, habitat, and public use 
management with no changes, or changes that would have occurred without 
the CCP. Develop maps that depict the No Action Alternative and 
document current management strategies.
    (b) A Range of Alternatives. Develop a range of alternatives, or 
different approaches to planning unit management, that we could 
reasonably undertake to achieve planning unit goals and resolve any 
significant issues identified. Combine different sets of objectives and 
strategies to provide alternatives for management of the refuge. Give 
an equal effort to each alternative regarding specific objectives and 
strategies so that the decision-maker can make an informed choice. NEPA 
requires an equal and full analysis of all alternatives considered for 
    (c) Proposed Action. Identify our proposed action. This may be the 
alternative that best achieves planning unit purpose(s), vision, and 
goals; contributes to the System mission; addresses the significant 
issues and relevant mandates, and is consistent with principles of 
sound fish and wildlife management. Our proposed action is, for all 
practical purposes, the draft CCP for the planning unit.
    (d) Objective Development. Develop objectives to address each goal. 
Consult our manual chapters on habitat management, populations 
management, and wildlife-dependent recreation during the development of 
objectives. The planning team should develop detailed, quantitative 
objectives when possible, using available information. Developing 
detailed objectives at this stage will expedite development of step-
down plans. Develop objectives for specific refuge habitat types, 
management units, key species (e.g., migratory birds and threatened and 
endangered species), wildlife-dependent recreation, monitoring 
populations of fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats, and other 
areas of management. Objectives may also deal with station information 
needs (for example, including the development of baseline data), 
administrative needs, and any other issues we need to address to meet 
the goals of the refuge. Document the rationale which supports each 
objective. The planning team also should consult Writing Refuge 
Management Goals and Objectives: a Handbook (March 1996). Prepare step-
down management plans to provide the specific details of how to 
implement some strategies, and accomplish some objectives, if needed.
    (e) Strategy Development. Develop strategies to identify the 
specific actions, tools, or techniques which are necessary to 
accomplish each objective. Strategies represent specific projects that 
provide the detail required to assess and develop funding, staffing, 
and partnerships needed to implement the plan. Develop inventory and 
monitoring strategies to measure implementation results in quantifiable 
and verifiable ways. We may need step-down management plans to provide 
the specific details of how to implement some strategies.
    (f) Environmental Consequences. Assess the environmental 
consequences of implementing each alternative as required by NEPA. 
Compare the consequences of implementing each alternative in relation 
to the No Action Alternative, which serves as a baseline. Describe the 
adverse and beneficial impacts of implementing each alternative on 
fish, wildlife, and plants, and their habitats; any threatened or 
endangered species; cultural resources; the local economy; the ability 
to provide opportunities for compatible wildlife-dependent recreational 
uses; and other issues identified earlier in the planning process. This 
analysis must provide the level of detail necessary to assess the 
compatibility of all proposed uses. Describe each alternative's ability 
to achieve planning unit purpose(s), vision, and goals; contribute to 
the System mission; and address the significant issues and relevant 
mandates. This assessment will also identify the funding, staffing, and 
facilities required for implementation of each alternative.

(5) Prepare Draft Plan and NEPA Document

    (a) Draft CCP and NEPA Document. Concurrently prepare the draft CCP 
and appropriate NEPA documentation. When preparing an EA, consider 
integrating the draft CCP with the EA. When preparing an EIS with a 
CCP, integrate the documents. If you decide to prepare separate 
documents, see Exhibit 4 for a recommended CCP outline. If the 
documents are separate, the proposed action and alternatives in the EA/
EIS must fully contain all of the major actions of the draft CCP. If 
you decide to merge the CCP and NEPA documents, see Exhibit 5 for a 
recommended outline. During the process of preparing the plan, refer to 
Exhibit 3 to ensure that you include all

[[Page 44377]]

required elements in the plan. Ensure compliance regarding other 
programs and policies, including Section 7 of the Endangered Species 
Act, Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, Section 106 and 110 of the 
National Historic Preservation Act, Section 14 of the Archaeological 
Resources Protection Act, Executive Order 13007--Protection of Sacred 
Sites, Executive Order 11990--Protection of Wetlands, Executive Order 
11988--Floodplain Management, etc. See Exhibit 2 for a list of relevant 
mandates to consider during the planning process.
    (b) Compatibility Determinations. Complete or recertify 
compatibility determinations as part of the CCP process for all 
individual uses, specific use programs, or groups of uses associated 
with our proposed action. Prepared concurrently with the CCP, 
incorporate the draft compatibility determinations into the draft CCP 
as an appendix. We require public review and comment for all 
compatibility determinations. We can achieve this concurrently through 
public review and comment of the draft CCP and NEPA document. While 
other alternatives do not require formal compatibility determinations, 
assess the environmental consequences, and, for all practical purposes, 
compatibility of all uses proposed in those alternatives in the NEPA 
document. For additional information on compatibility determinations, 
consult the Service Manual, Part 603, Chapter 3 (603 FW 3).
    (c) Interim Compatibility Determinations. If our proposed action 
includes expanding the planning unit by acquiring new lands, the draft 
CCP and NEPA documents also must identify any existing wildlife-
dependent recreational uses occurring on those lands. Also identify 
those uses deemed compatible that we may allow to continue on an 
interim basis once we acquire the lands, pending completion of the CCP. 
Incorporate these interim compatibility determinations into the draft 
CCP and NEPA document.
    (d) Internal Review. Submit the draft CCP and NEPA document for 
internal review within the Region following established regional 
procedures. Also submit these documents for internal review to all 
Regional Planning Coordinators and the Washington Office Planning 
Coordinator. Consider all comments received from the internal reviews 
and make appropriate changes to the draft document. Print the draft CCP 
and NEPA document and prepare for public review.
    (e) Public Notice, Review, and Comment. Prepare a Notice of 
Availability of the draft CCP and NEPA document and publish it in the 
Federal Register. Notify the affected public of the availability of 
these documents through other appropriate means, as identified in the 
Public Involvement/Outreach Plan. Public notices will make clear that 
we are seeking concurrent review on compatibility determinations. 
Provide a minimum of 30 days review for a draft CCP with an EA and 60 
days for a draft CCP with a draft EIS. Make copies of the draft CCP and 
NEPA document available to appropriate elected officials; Federal, 
State, and local agencies; Tribal governments; organizations; 
libraries; adjacent landowners; and individuals requesting them. 
Conduct appropriate public involvement activities as called for in the 
Public Involvement/Outreach Plan. Document all public comments, both 
written and oral, received on the draft CCP and NEPA document as part 
of the planning record.

(6) Prepare and Adopt Final Plan

    (a) Public Comment, Analysis, and Response. Review and analyze all 
written and oral comments received from the public on the draft CCP and 
NEPA document. Determine which comments are substantive and warrant 
written response. Modify the document(s) as appropriate. Prepare a 
summary of the public comments received and a statement of the 
disposition of concerns expressed in those comments, noting where we 
have changed the document(s) or why we did not make such changes. 
Incorporate the summary and statement of disposition into the final 
document(s) (usually in the NEPA document or a CCP appendix).
    (b) Final CCP and NEPA Document(s). Identify our preferred 
alternative and prepare the final CCP and appropriate NEPA 
documentation. The preferred alternative can be the proposed action, no 
action alternative, or another alternative discussed in the draft CCP 
and NEPA document. Following completion of the final CCP/NEPA document, 
the product of the CCP process is a stand-alone CCP (the preferred 
alternative for the planning unit). During the process of preparing the 
final plan, refer to Exhibit 3 to ensure that you include all required 
    (c) Internal Review. Submit the final document(s) for internal 
review within the region according to established regional procedures. 
Consider all comments received from the internal review and make 
appropriate changes to the final document(s).
    (d) Decision Document. The decision document will certify that 
agency compliance requirements are met and that the CCP, when 
implemented, will achieve the purposes of the refuge and will 
contribute to fulfilling the System mission.
    (i) CCP with an EA and FONSI. The Refuge Manager and Planning Team 
Leader submit the final CCP and the FONSI through line supervision for 
concurrence and approval by the Regional Director. The Regional 
Director will sign and date both the FONSI and the final CCP. Following 
approval, print and distribute the final documents and appropriate 
appendices. Provide the FONSI to all interested and affected parties. 
Concurrent with distribution of the FONSI, provide the final, approved 
CCP or a summary to all interested parties. In some cases we may 
require a 30-day public review period for the FONSI (see 550 FW 3.3 
B(4)(c)). In these cases, we may not sign or release the final CCP 
until the end of the 30-day review.
    (ii) CCP with an EIS and ROD. The Refuge Manager and Planning Team 
Leader submit the final CCP/EIS through line supervision for 
concurrence and approval to release these documents to the public. 
Provide the final EIS to interested and affected parties for at least 
30 days prior to issuing a ROD. After a minimum of 30 days, submit the 
ROD through line supervision for concurrence and approval by the 
Regional Director. The Regional Director will sign and date both the 
ROD and the final CCP. Following approval, print the final documents 
and appropriate appendices. Provide the ROD or notification of its 
availability to all interested and affected parties. Concurrent with 
the release of the ROD, provide or make available the final, approved 
CCP or a summary to interested parties. Effective with the signing and 
release of the ROD, implement the CCP.
    (iii) The final product of the CCP process is a stand-alone CCP 
(the preferred alternative for the planning unit).
    (e) Public Notice. Prepare a Notice of Availability of the final 
approved CCP and NEPA document(s) and publish it in the Federal 
Register. Notify the affected public of the availability of the final 
document(s) and through other appropriate means, as identified in the 
Public Involvement/Outreach Plan. Send copies of all final documents to 
the regional and Washington Office Planning Coordinators. Make copies 
of the final approved CCP and NEPA document(s) available to appropriate 
elected officials; Federal, State, and local agencies; Tribal 
governments; organizations; libraries; adjacent

[[Page 44378]]

landowners; and individuals requesting them.
    (7) Implement Plan, Monitor, and Evaluate. Following formal 
adoption of the CCP and public notification of the decision, 
implementation of the management strategies identified in the CCP may 
begin. Allocate funding and staff time to the priority management 
strategies as defined in the CCP. Initiate the monitoring and 
evaluation process identified in the CCP to determine if we are making 
progress in achieving the planning unit purpose(s), vision, goals, and 
objectives. Through adaptive management, evaluation of monitoring and 
research results may indicate the need to modify refuge objectives or 
management strategies.

(8) Review and Revise Plan

    (a) Plan Review. Review the CCP periodically to decide if it 
requires any revisions. Modify management activities periodically if 
monitoring and evaluation determine that we need changes to achieve 
planning unit purpose(s), vision, goals, and objectives.
    (b) Plan Revision. As set forth in the Refuge Administration Act, 
periodically review and revise the CCP at least every 15 years. Make 
minor plan revisions generally through the use of a categorical 
exclusion, if applicable. Document minor plan revisions that meet the 
criteria of a categorical exclusion in an Environmental Action 
Statement, in accordance with 550 FW 3.3C. Contact the Regional NEPA 
Coordinator for an up-to-date list of categorical exclusions. If the 
plan requires a major revision, then the CCP process starts anew at the 
pre-planning step.
    (c) Ongoing Public Involvement. Continue informing and involving 
the public through appropriate means.


[[Page 44379]]



[[Page 44380]]

    Exhibit 2--Mandates to Consider During Comprehensive Conservation
                                              Applicable  Yes/No
Alaska National Interest Lands        ____________
 Conservation Act of 1980, as
American Indian Religious Freedom     ____________
 Act of 1978.
Americans with Disabilities Act of    ____________
Anadromous Fish Conservation Act of   ____________
 1965, as amended.
Antiquities Act of 1906.............  ____________
Archaeological and Historic           ____________
 Preservation Act of 1974.
Archaeological Resources Protection   ____________
 Act of 1979, as amended.
Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act  ____________
 of 1940, as amended.
Clean Air Act of 1970...............  ____________
Clean Water Act of 1974, as amended.  ____________
Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972,  ____________
 as amended.
Emergency Wetlands Resources Act of   ____________
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as    ____________
Farmland Protection Act of 1981, as   ____________
Federal Cave Protection Act of 1988.  ____________
Federal Noxious Weed Act of 1990....  ____________
Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956.......  ____________
Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act    ____________
 of 1958.
Fishery (Magnuson) Conservation and   ____________
 Management Act of 1976.
Marine Mammal Protection Act of       ____________
 1972, as amended.
Migratory Bird Conservation Act of    ____________
Migratory Bird Hunting and            ____________
 Conservation Stamp Act of 1934.
Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918,    ____________
 as amended.
National Environmental Policy Act of  ____________
National Historic Preservation Act    ____________
 of 1966, as amended.
National Wildlife Refuge System       ____________
 Administration Act of 1966, as
Native American Graves Protection     ____________
 and Repatriation Act of 1990.
Refuge Recreation Act of 1962, as     ____________
Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899......  ____________
Water Resources Planning Act of 1965  ____________
 (sole-source aquifers).
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1972,   ____________
 as amended.
Wilderness Act of 1964, as amended..  ____________
          Executive Orders
Executive Order 11644, Use of Off-    ____________
 Road Vehicles on Public Lands.
Executive Order 11987, Exotic         ____________
Executive Order 11988, Floodplain     ____________
Executive Order 11990, Protection of  ____________
Executive Order 12898, Environmental  ____________
 Justice for Minority Populations.
Executive Order 12996, Management     ____________
 and General Public Use of the
 National Wildlife Refuge System.
Executive Order 13007, Indian Sacred  ____________
Executive Order 13084, Consultation   ____________
 and Coordination with Indian Tribal

Exhibit 3--Checklist of Required Comprehensive Conservation Plan 

____ Short description of the refuge to include:
    ____ Size
    ____ Establishment date
    ____ Regional setting (include area map)
    ____ Status of acquisition
    ____ Current management (including a map)
    ____ Current staffing
    ____ Existing partnerships
    ____ Purpose(s) for which we established the refuge
____ Refuge System mission and goals.
____ Ecosystem goals and objectives.
____ Goals and objectives for other landscape level plans.
____ National goals and objectives for species, species groups, or 
programs (e.g., shorebirds, an endangered species, priority public use 
____ Identify any relevant mandates that apply to the area or the 
proposed plan.
____ Description of the refuge environment:
    ____ the distribution, migration patterns, and abundance of fish 
wildlife, and plant populations within the planning unit;
    ____ the archaeological and cultural values of the planning unit;
    ____ refuge land status map;
    ____ description of refuge (planning area) vegetation types (map 
    ____ description of vegetation/land cover and wildlife habitat 
    ____ description of wildlife habitat and species relationships;
    ____ describe the context of the refuge in meeting the habitat 
needs of fish, wildlife, and plants, as they occur throughout their 
natural ranges;
    ____ describe the natural and historic role of fire and other 
ecological processes;
    ____ identify any existing special management areas (e.g., 
wilderness, wild and scenic rivers);
    ____ the relationship between the planning unit and other refuges 
and protected areas.

Exhibit 3

____ Document and describe the following:
    ____ the need for administrative sites or visitor facilities and 
areas within the planning unit that are suitable for such sites;
    ____ significant problems that may adversely affect the populations 
and habitats of fish, wildlife, and plants within the planning unit and 
the actions necessary to correct or

[[Page 44381]]

mitigate such problems;
    ____ summary of management history;
    ____ water quantity and quality requirements and issues;
    ____ identify all known or suspected sources of environmental 
contaminants and their potential impacts (i.e., Contaminant Assessment 
    ____ opportunities for compatible wildlife-dependent recreational 
    ____ other significant issues of management or public concern;
    ____ the potential for special management areas (e.g., wilderness, 
wild and scenic rivers, research natural areas).

____ Refuge Vision Statement
____ Refuge goals for at least the following areas:
    ____ habitat management (including land protection needs as 
    ____ fish, wildlife, and plant populations management;
    ____ wildlife-dependent recreation;
    ____ others as needed to meet relevant mandates (e.g., wilderness, 
wild and scenic rivers, cultural resources, etc.).

____ Objectives for each goal, including objectives to monitor the 
status and trends of fish, wildlife and plants which will evaluate the 
effectiveness of the plan.
____ Strategies to achieve each objective.
____ Map(s) of desired future conditions (e.g., habitat management 
areas, facilities, wildlife-dependent recreation sites, etc.).
____ Identify step-down management plans required to fully implement 
the plan.
____ Prioritized list of projects and estimated project costs (update 
priorities and cost estimates annually).
____ Staffing required to implement the plan.
____ Potential partnership opportunities.
____ Monitoring plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan and 
project implementation, including monitoring of target fish, wildlife, 
and plant populations and their habitats.
____ Summary of public involvement process, comments, and consultation 
and coordination with other Federal agencies, State conservation 
agencies, and adjacent landowners.
____ Compatibility determinations.
____ Wilderness review.
____ Habitat/Land Protection Plans (if applicable).
____ NEPA documentation.

    Note: Some of these required elements may not be available. In 
these cases, you need to develop objectives or strategies in the 
plan to acquire that information.

Exhibit 4--Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan Recommended 

Cover Sheet
Title/Approval Page
Table of Contents
I. Introduction/Background
    Refuge Overview: History of Refuge Establishment, Acquisition and 
    Purpose of and Need for Plan
    NWRS Mission, Goals and Guiding Principles
    Refuge Purpose(s)
    Refuge Vision Statement
    Legal and Policy Guidance
    Existing Partnerships
II. Planning Process
    Description of Planning Process
    Planning Issues
III. Summary Refuge and Resource Descriptions
    Geographic/Ecosystem Setting
    Refuge Resources, Cultural Values and Uses
    Special Management Areas
IV. Management Direction
    Refuge Management Direction: Goals, Objectives and Strategies/
    Refuge Management Policies and Guidelines
V. Implementation and Monitoring
    Funding and Personnel
    Step-down Management Plans
    Partnership Opportunities
    Monitoring and Evaluation
    Plan Amendment and Revision
    RONS List
    MMS list
    Compatibility Determinations
    Habitat/Land Protection Plan(s)
    Compliance Requirements
    NEPA Documentation
    Summary of Public Involvement/Comments and Consultation/
    Mailing List
    List of Preparers
    Others, as appropriate

Exhibit 5--EA or EIS Incorporating Elements of a CCP Recommended 

Cover Sheet
Table of Contents
I. Introduction, Purpose of and Need for Action
    Purpose of and Need for Plan
    NWRS Mission, Goals and Guiding Principles
    History of Refuge Establishment, Acquisition and Management
    Legal and Policy Guidance
    Refuge Purpose(s)
    Refuge Vision Statement
    Refuge Management Direction: Goals
    Refuge Management Policies and Guidelines
    Step-down Management Plans
    Description of Planning Process
    Planning Issues
    Plan Amendment and Revision
II. Alternatives, Including the Service's Proposed Action
    Description of Each Alternative
      Refuge Management Direction:
        Objectives and Strategies
      Funding and Personnel
      Partnership Opportunities
      Monitoring and Evaluation
    Alternatives Considered, but Eliminated from Detailed Study
    Summary Comparison of Alternatives
III. Affected Environment
      Geographic/Ecosystem Setting
      Refuge Resources, Cultural Values and Uses
IV. Environmental Consequences
    Environmental Effects of Each Alternative
V. List of Preparers
VI. Consultation and Coordination with Others
    Summary of Public Involvement/Comments
    Mailing List
    RONS List
    MMS List
    Compatibility Determinations
    Habitat/Land Protection Plan(s)
    Compliance Requirements
    Others, as appropriate

Refuge Management

Part 602 National Wildlife Refuge System Planning

Chapter 3 Step-Down Management Planning

602 FW 3

    3.1  What is the purpose of this chapter? This chapter provides 
guidance on step-down management planning.
    3.2  What is our policy for step-down management planning? Prepare 
step-down management plans when required by policy or identified in 
Comprehensive Conservation Plans (CCPs) and when they may be necessary 
to provide additional detail for achieving objectives or implementing 
management strategies identified in

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CCPs. Step-down management plans should include public involvement and 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance documentation, as 
appropriate. Develop step-down management plans following the planning 
process guidance in 602 FW 2. (Consult your NEPA Coordinator.)
    3.3  What is the applicability of step-down management planning and 
its relationship to Comprehensive Conservation Plans?
    A. Step-down management planning is the formulation of detailed 
plans that describe management activities necessary to achieve 
objectives or implement management strategies identified in the CCP.
    B. Step-down plans describe the specific management actions we are 
to follow, ``stepping down'' from general goals, objectives, and 
strategies. The preparation of new step-down plans or substantial 
changes to existing step-down plans typically will require further 
compliance with NEPA and other policies, and opportunity for public 
review. For public use plans or other step-down plans dealing with 
proposed uses of the refuge, prepare and append compatibility 
determinations to the plan.
    C. The CCP will identify which step-down management plans are 
necessary and provide a schedule for their completion. While we require 
certain step-down plans for all refuges, we may require others, such as 
fire management and pest management depending on refuge resources, 
specific program requirements, or the need for additional details to 
implement management strategies identified in CCPs. In the absence of 
an approved CCP, we may develop step-down plans to describe goals, 
objectives, management strategies, and details necessary to implement a 
management program.
    D. As an alternative to separate step-down management plans, we may 
address management programs in detail during the preparation of the 
CCP. Determining which programs we can address in detail in the CCP 
depends on several factors, including the degree of public interest, 
the amount of available information, and the complexity of the issues.
    3.4 How do we combine step-down management plans? Address 
management subjects individually or combined into a single, integrated 
step-down plan. This decision rests with the Refuge Manager. Base the 
decision on management strategies defined in the CCP, the relationship 
between management program areas, and the complexity of the programs 
under consideration. Some program areas, such as fire management and 
habitat management, logically suggest an integrated approach.
    3.5  What is the list of potential step-down management plans? 
Following is the current list of potential refuge step-down management 
plans. Consider all of these plans during the CCP process. The CCP will 
document which plans we require for the station.

        Step-down management plans            Service manual reference
Occupational Safety and Health (required).  (Part 240)
    Safety Program........................  (240 FW 1-9)
    Safety Operations.....................  (241 FW 1-8)
    Industrial Hygiene....................  (242 FW 1-13)
    Emergency Spill Response Plan.........  (242 FW 6.1)
Compliance Requirements...................  (Part 561)
    Spill Prevention Control and            (561 FW 3)
     Countermeasures Plan.
    Pollution Prevention Plan.............  (560 FW 1 and 560 FW 2)
    Hazardous Waste Contingency Plan......  (561 FW 6)
Special Management Areas..................  (Part 611)
    Research Natural Areas................  (611 FW 1)
    Public Use Natural Areas..............  (611 FW 2)
    Wild and Scenic Rivers................  (611 FW 3)
    National Trails.......................  (611 FW 4)
    Wilderness Area Management............  (Part 610)
    Man in the Biosphere Reserve..........  (National Park Service)
    Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserves.
    Ramsar Convention.....................  (International Legal
                                             Materials 11:963-976)
Minerals Management.......................  (Part 612)
    Minerals and Mining...................  (612 FW 1)
    Oil and Gas...........................  (612 FW 2)
Long-Range Water Management Plan..........  (403 FW 1.4)
Cultural Resources Management.............  (Part 614)
Habitat Management Plan (HMT).............  (Part 620)
Fire Management...........................  (Part 621)
Wildlife-dependent Recreation.............  (Part 605)
    Hunting (required)....................  (605 FW 2)
    Fishing (required)....................  (605 FW 3)
    Wildlife Observation..................  (605 FW 4)
    Wildlife Photography..................  (605 FW 5)
    Environmental Education...............  (605 FW 6)
    Interpretation........................  (605 FW 7)
Law Enforcement...........................  (Parts 440-459)
Populations Management....................  (Part 701)
    Wildlife Inventories..................  (701 FW 2)
    Propagation and Stocking..............  (701 FW 3)
    Marking and Banding...................  (701 FW 4)
    Disease Prevention and Control........  (701 FW 7)
    Fishery Management....................  (Part 710)
    Trapping..............................  (631 FW 4)
    Pest Management.......................  (562 FW 2)
    Exotic Species Management.............  (Part 751)
Air Quality Management....................  (563 FW 2)

[FR Doc. 99-20923 Filed 8-12-99; 8:45 am]