[Federal Register: February 23, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 35)]
[Page 8833-8834]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to Prepare a Comprehensive Conservation Plan 
and Associated National Environmental Policy Act Document for the San 
Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge, Stanislaus and San Joaquin 
Counties, California.


SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is preparing a 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) document for the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge. 
This notice advises the public that the Service intends to gather 
information necessary to prepare a CCP and environmental documents 
pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 
1966, as amended, and NEPA. The public is invited to participate in the 
planning process. The Service is furnishing this notice in compliance 
with the Service CCP policy:
    (1) To advise other agencies and the public of our intentions,

[[Page 8834]]

    (2) To obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to 
include in the environmental documents, and
    (3) To announce a public open house to occur in March, 1999. 
Information about the time and location of the open house will be 
published in local media, will be provided to individuals on our 
mailing list, and will be available by contacting the refuge or 
planning team leader.

DATES: To ensure that the Service has adequate time to evaluate and 
incorporate suggestions and other input into the planning process, 
comments should be received on or before April 9, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments or requests to be added to the mailing 
list to the following address: Planning Team Leader--San Joaquin River 
NWR, California/Nevada Refuge Planning Office, US Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 2233 Watt Avenue, Suite 230, Sacramento, California, 95825.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Leslie Lew, Planning Team Leader, 
(916) 979-2085, or Scott Frazer, Refuge Operations Specialist, (209) 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The National Wildlife Refuge System 
Administration Act of 1966, as amended, mandates that all lands within 
the National Wildlife Refuge System are to be managed in accordance 
with an approved CCP. The CCP will guide management decisions and 
identify refuge goals, long-range objectives and management strategies 
for achieving refuge purposes. The planning process will consider many 
elements, including habitat and wildlife management, habitat 
protection, cultural resources, and environmental effects. Public input 
into this planning process is very important. The CCP will provide 
other agencies and the public with a clear understanding of the desired 
conditions for the refuges and how the Service will implement 
management strategies.
    The Service is soliciting information from the public via written 
comments. Interested parties are urged to be added to the Service's 
mailing list. The Service will send out special mailings, newspaper 
articles, and announcements to people who are interested in the refuge. 
These mailings will provide information on how to participate in public 
involvement for the CCP. Comments received will be used to develop 
goals, key issues, and habitat management strategies. Additional 
opportunities for public participation will occur throughout the 
process, which is expected to be completed in late 1999. Data 
collection has been initiated to create computerized mapping, including 
vegetation, topography, habitat types and existing land uses.
    The San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge is located west of 
Modesto, California, within the historic floodplain of the confluences 
of the San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne Rivers. The Refuge was 
established in 1987 because of the importance of the area as habitat 
for the endangered Aleutian Canada goose. This area is the traditional 
wintering area for virtually the entire population of the Aleutian 
Canada goose. Refuge lands consist of riparian forest, grasslands, 
pastures, agricultural fields, and wetlands.
    The Refuge also protects other federally listed species, such as 
the threatened chinook salmon, improves and manages habitat for 
migratory birds, and conserves native fauna and flora. Currently the 
Refuge consists of 5,588 acres controlled by the Service within an 
approved Refuge boundary of 12,877 acres.
    The Central Valley of California, which comprises the Sacramento 
and San Joaquin Valleys, provides winter habitat for about 60 percent 
of the Pacific flyway waterfowl population. Before the arrival of 
European settlers, about 4 million acres of wetlands existed in the 
Central Valley. Today, only about 300,000 acres of wetlands remain in 
the same area. Preservation, restoration, and management of wetlands, 
grasslands, and riparian habitat such as that found on the San Joaquin 
River National Wildlife Refuge, are needed to ensure that adequate 
wildlife habitat will be available to sustain the population levels of 
a variety of wildlife species.
    The Refuge purpose is to conserve fish, wildlife, and plants which 
are Federally listed as endangered or threatened species. (16 U.S.C. 
1534--Endangered Species Act of 1973).
    The outcome of this planning process will be a CCP to guide refuge 
management for the next 15 years and accompanying NEPA document.
    It is estimated that a draft CCP and NEPA document will be made 
available for public review in fall 2000.

    Dated: February 12, 1999.
Michael J. Spear,
Manager, California Nevada Operations, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 99-4386 Filed 2-22-99; 8:45 am]