[Federal Register: April 14, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 73)]
[Page 20192-20194]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Draft Environmental Impact Statement; Notice of Availability

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that a draft environmental 
impact statement (Draft EIS) for the comprehensive conservation plan 
and boundary revision for the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) 
Complex located in Churchill and Washoe Counties, Nevada will be 
available for public review beginning April 14, 2000. Stillwater NWR 
Complex includes Stillwater NWR, Stillwater Wildlife Management Area 
(WMA), Fallon NWR, and Anaho Island NWR. Comments and suggestions are 
invited. All comments, including names and addresses will become part 
of the administrative record and may be released.

DATES: The comment period for this Draft EIS will extend from April 14, 
2000 to June 12, 2000. Comments received will be considered during 
preparation of the Final Environmental Impact Statement. Open house 
meetings will be held on April 26 and 27, 2000 (see below for details 
on locations).

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to: Kim Hanson, Refuge Manager, 
Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 1236, Fallon, Nevada 
89407, (775) 423-5128. The open-house schedule is: April 26, 2000, from 
3:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Fallon Convention Center, 100 Campus Way, 
Fallon, Nevada and April 27, 2000, from 3:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the 
Department of the Interior Building, 1340 Financial Boulevard, Reno, 
    Copies of the Draft EIS may be inspected at the following 
locations: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Planning, 
Eastside Federal Complex, 911 N.E. 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97232-
4181; Stillwater NWR Complex, 1000 Auction Road, Fallon, NV 89406; 
Churchill County Library, 553 South Main Street, Fallon, NV 89406; 
Carson City Library, 900 North Roop Street, Carson City, NV 89701; 
Downtown Reno Library, 301 S. Center Street, Reno, NV 89501. 
Individuals wishing to receive a copy of the Draft EIS or Summary for 
review should immediately contact the Stillwater NWR office (address 
and phone number provided above). The Summary document can be viewed on 
the Service's regional web site: www:r1/fws/gov/planning/plnhome.html/.

(775-423-5128) or Don DeLong, CA/NV Refuge Planning Office (916-414-

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Stillwater NWR Complex currently 
includes Stillwater NWR, Stillwater Wildlife Management Area (WMA), 
Fallon NWR, which are located in west-central Nevada, about six miles 
northeast of Fallon, Churchill County, and Anaho Island NWR, located 
about 30 miles northeast of Reno, Nevada, in Washoe County. Stillwater 
NWR is about 79,570 acres of Federal land, Stillwater WMA about 65,603 
acres, and Fallon NWR about 17,848 acres, for a combined total of 
163,021 acres of Federal land. Non-Federal inholdings within the 
approved boundaries are about 59,708 acres. Anaho Island NWR 
encompasses the entire island, which has fluctuated in size from 220 to 
745 acres in recent history due to the fluctuating water levels of 
Pyramid Lake. In July 1997, it was an estimated 575 acres.
    Anaho Island NWR was established in 1913 by Executive Order 1819 as 
a ``* * * preserve and breeding ground for native birds.'' Public Law 
101-618 (Sec. 210(b)(2)) more narrowly defined the purpose of Anaho 
Island NWR, stating that it was to be managed and administered ``* * * 
for the benefit and protection of colonial-nesting species and other 
migratory birds.'' The Public Law also recognized that Anaho Island NWR 
is part of the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation, but it is to be managed 
and administered by the Service as a component of the National Wildlife 
Refuge System (Refuge System).
    Fallon NWR was established in 1931 by Executive Order 5606 ``as a 
refuge and breeding ground for birds and other wild animals.'' It is 
located at the terminus of the Carson River and encompasses the delta 
wetlands of the river.
    Stillwater WMA and Stillwater NWR were established through a 50-
year agreement (Tripartite Agreement) signed in 1948 by the Truckee-
Carson Irrigation District (TCID), Nevada State Board of Fish and Game 
Commissioners (Nevada Division of Wildlife), and the Service. Although 
the Tripartite Agreement expired on November 26, 1998, the Service 
continues to cooperatively manage the Stillwater WMA with the U.S. 
Bureau of Reclamation under most provisions of the Tripartite 
Agreement. Stillwater WMA, comprised mainly of U.S. Bureau of 
Reclamation withdrawn public lands, was established in 1948 for the 
purposes of conserving and managing wildlife and their habitat, and for 
public hunting. Stillwater NWR was established in 1949 as a wildlife 
sanctuary (closed to hunting) adjacent to the public hunting area.
    In 1990, the approved boundary of Stillwater NWR was expanded, 
under subsection 206(b)(1) of the Truckee-Carson-Pyramid Lake Water 
Rights Settlement Act (Title II of Pub. L. 101-618), to encompass 
Stillwater Marsh, most of which was previously in the Stillwater WMA. 
In addition to the boundary expansion, Public Law 101-618 also outlined 
four purposes for which the Service must manage

[[Page 20193]]

Stillwater NWR: (1) maintaining and restoring natural biological 
diversity within the refuge; (2) providing for the conservation and 
management of fish and wildlife and their habitats within the refuge; 
(3) fulfilling international treaty obligations of the United States 
with respect to fish and wildlife; and (4) providing opportunities for 
scientific research, environmental education, and fish and wildlife-
oriented recreation.
    Each alternative in the Draft EIS consists of two main parts: (1) a 
boundary revision for Stillwater NWR, and (2) the framework of a 
comprehensive conservation plan, including refuge goals, objectives, 
and strategies for achieving the purposes for which each refuge was 
established and for contributing toward the mission of the Refuge 

Boundary Revision

    Public Law 101-618 authorized the Secretary of the Interior 
(Secretary) to recommend to Congress boundary revisions to Stillwater 
NWR that may be appropriate to carry out the purposes of the refuge and 
to facilitate the protection and enhancement of Lahontan Valley wetland 
habitat. The law authorized the Secretary to recommend the transfer of 
any Bureau of Reclamation withdrawn public lands within the existing 
wildlife use areas in the Lahontan Valley to the Service for addition 
to the Refuge System. Furthermore it authorized the identification of 
lands in the Lahontan Valley currently under the jurisdiction of the 
Service that no longer warrant continued status as units of the Refuge 

Comprehensive Conservation Plan

    A comprehensive conservation plan is required by the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 6688dd et 
seq.), as amended. The purpose of developing a comprehensive 
conservation plan for the Stillwater NWR Complex is to provide managers 
with a 15-year strategy for achieving refuge purposes and contributing 
toward the mission of the Refuge System, consistent with sound 
principles of fish and wildlife conservation and legal mandates. In 
addition to outlining broad management direction on conserving wildlife 
and their habitat, the comprehensive conservation plan will highlight 
wildlife-dependent recreation opportunities available to the public, 
including opportunities for hunting, environmental education, and 
wildlife observation and photography.

Draft EIS Issues and Alternatives Being Considered

    Six major issues were identified through scoping. They are (1) 
potential effects on populations of fish, wildlife, and plants, (2) 
potential effects on habitat and ecosystem functioning, (3) potential 
effects on recreational, educational, and interpretive opportunities, 
(4) potential effects on the local agriculture and socio-economy, and 
the Newlands irrigation project, (5) potential effects on cultural 
resources, and (6) potential effects on Naval Air Station-Fallon 
    The Draft EIS identifies and provides an evaluation of four 
alternative boundaries for Stillwater NWR and management approaches for 
managing the Stillwater NWR Complex for the next 15 years. The four 
alternatives considered in detail in the Draft EIS are as follows. 
Alternative A (No Action Alternative) would retain the existing 
boundaries and entails baseline management as outlined in the 1987 
Management Plan for Stillwater WMA and modified by the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service's (Service's) water-rights acquisition program. Water 
rights acquired for refuge wetlands would continue to be delivered to 
the refuge according to the traditional agricultural seasonal-pattern 
of delivery in the irrigation district. Habitat management would 
emphasize breeding habitat for waterfowl and other waterbirds and would 
also provide for the needs of migrating and wintering waterfowl; 
livestock grazing and muskrat trapping would be managed commensurate 
with wildlife objectives on a large part of the area; and hunting 
remain the priority public use and would continue to be a coequal 
purpose with wildlife conservation.
    Alternative B would result in the lands within Stillwater WMA 
reverting back to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation or public land status, 
thus reducing the amount of Federal land managed primarily for wildlife 
conservation in the Lahontan Valley. This alternative would focus on 
providing fall and winter habitat for waterfowl on Stillwater NWR (and 
would emphasize fall deliveries of acquired water rights), but would 
also provide habitat for breeding waterbirds. Livestock grazing and 
muskrat trapping would only be used as a habitat management tool. 
Opportunities for waterfowl hunting on Stillwater NWR would continue to 
be emphasized, although opportunities for wildlife viewing and 
environmental education would be expanded. Providing breeding habitat 
for waterbirds would be emphasized on Fallon NWR.
    Under Alternative C (Service's Preferred Alternative), Stillwater 
NWR would be expanded to include most of Stillwater WMA and Fallon NWR 
and to include additional riparian and dune habitat, although the 
overall amount of Federal land managed for wildlife conservation in the 
Lahontan Valley would decline. This alternative would emphasize the 
approximation of natural biological diversity, including breeding 
habitat for waterbirds. The natural seasonal pattern of water inflow 
would be approximated, with adjustments to minimize nest flooding and 
to enhance fall and winter habitat for waterfowl. Livestock grazing 
would have limited application in the habitat management program, and 
muskrat trapping would primarily be undertaken to prevent damage to 
water-control structures. Waterfowl hunting would continue to be an 
integral part of the public use program under Alternative C, but 
environmental education and wildlife observation would receive 
considerably greater emphasis.
    Alternative D would expand the boundary of Stillwater NWR to 
include all of Stillwater WMA and Fallon NWR and additional riparian 
and dune habitat. This alternative would focus on restoring natural 
hydrologic patterns and other ecological processes. Protection and 
restoration of riparian habitat would receive enhanced emphasis, and 
livestock grazing and muskrat trapping would not be used in the habitat 
management program and would be prohibited. Public use management would 
focus on providing opportunities for wildlife observation and 
environmental education, and hunting opportunities would diminish.
    Maps of each alternative boundary and public use zones are provided 
in the Draft EIS and summary document. In all alternatives, Anaho 
Island NWR would be managed much as it has in the past, with a 
continued emphasis on protecting the nesting colony of American white 
pelicans and other colony-nesting birds that use the island.
    Other governmental agencies, tribes, and members of the general 
public contributed to the planning and evaluation of the Draft EIS. The 
Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS was published in the Federal 
Register on March 14, 1997 (62 FR 12245) by the Department of the 
Interior. The Service has given presentations to county officials, 
conservation groups, other interested parties and the media, and 
informed the public through intermittent distribution of planning 
updates. Copies of the Draft EIS or a

[[Page 20194]]

Summary have been sent to all agencies and individuals who participated 
in the scoping process and to all others who have already requested 

    Dated: April 6, 2000.
Elizabeth H. Stevens,
Acting CA/NV Operations Manager.
[FR Doc. 00-9047 Filed 4-13-00; 8:45 am]