[Federal Register: July 27, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 145)]
[Page 46171-46172]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of Draft Environmental Impact Statement 
for the Establishment of the Little Darby National Wildlife Refuge in 
Madison and Union Counties, West Central Ohio

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability for public comment.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has prepared a 
Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) which is available for 
public review. The DEIS analyzes the potential environmental impacts 
that may result if a national wildlife refuge is established in the 
Little Darby watershed. The analysis provided in the DEIS is intended 
to accomplish the following: inform the public of the proposed action 
and alternatives; address public comment received during the scoping 
period; disclose the direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental 
effects of the proposed actions and each of the alternatives; and 
indicate any irreversible commitment of resources that would result 
from implementation of the proposed action. The Service invites the 
public to comment on the DEIS. All comments received from individuals 
become part of the official public record. Requests for such comments 
will be handled in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and 
the Council on Environmental Quality's National Environmental Policy 
Act regulations [40 CFR 1506.6(f)]. Our practice is to make comments 
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. If a 
respondent wishes us to withhold his/her name and/or address, this must 
be stated prominently at the beginning of the comment.
    The DEIS evaluates the establishment of the Little Darby National 
Wildlife Refuge as a means of working with individuals, groups, and 
governmental entities to permanently preserve and restore a significant 
segment of the Little Darby Creek subwatershed, its aquatic resources, 
threatened and endangered species, migratory birds and the historic 
grassland, wetland and oak savanna habitats that they depend upon. Five 
alternatives, including a No Action alternative are being considered. 
The four action alternatives are aimed at permanently protecting and 
enhancing a major corridor segment of the Little Darby Creek, and 
associated grassland, wetland and riparian habitats.
    The Service's preferred alternative (Alternative 2) is to 
permanently protect, enhance and restore riparian areas, grasslands and 
wetlands that were historically present within the framework of a 
Voluntary Purchase Area and to protect a larger part of the 
subwatershed identified as a Watershed Conservation Area through the 
use of voluntary non-development easements which will perpetuate the 
current land use and encourage conservation land use practices. The use 
of partnerships, incentives, education, and cooperative agreements will 
be used and considered in addition to the acquisition of easements and 
fee title interests. Any conservation easements, or acquisition of full 
title would be done by the Service and Service Partners which may 
include state agencies and private organizations. Service acquisition 
of easements and fee interest in lands would be on a voluntary basis 
from willing sellers.

DATES: Written comments on the DEIS must be received on or before 
September 28, 2000. A Final Environmental Impact Statement will then be 
prepared and provided to the public for review.

ADDRESSES: Individuals wishing copies of this DEIS for review should 
contact: William Hegge, Darby Creek Watershed Project Manager, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 6950-H Americana Parkway, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 
43068 or Thomas Larson, Chief of Ascertainment and Planning, National 
Wildlife Refuge System, BHW Federal Building, 1 Federal Drive, Fort 
Snelling, Minnesota 55111. The DEIS is also available on the Internet 
at http://www.fws.gov/r3pao/planning/top.htm and at the Ohio libraries 
listed below:

Hilliard Branch, Columbus Metropolitan Libraries
Dublin Branch, Columbus Metropolitan Libraries
Main Branch, Columbus Metropolitan Libraries
Northwest Branch, Columbus Metropolitan Libraries
London Branch, Madison County Libraries
Plain City Branch, Madison County Libraries
West Jefferson Branch, Madison County Libraries
Marysville Branch, Union County Libraries
Richwood Branch, Union County Libraries
Urbana Branch, Champaign County Libraries
St. Paris Branch, Champaign County Libraries
Mechanicsburg Branch, Champaign County Libraries
Springfield Branch, Clark County Libraries
Hurt/Battelle Memorial Library, West Jefferson

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William Hegge or Thomas Larson at the 
addresses listed above or by telephone at 614/ 469-6923 x17 and 800/
247-1247 respectively.

Public Hearing

    A public hearing will be held in Ohio during the comment period to 
solicit oral comments from the public. The date and location of this 
hearing will be announced through the local news media.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On June 9, 2000, a notice was published in 
the Federal Register (65 F.R. 36711) announcing that the Service 
intended to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement addressing the 
possible Federal action of establishing a refuge on the Little Darby 
watershed in Madison and Union counties, Ohio, and inviting comments on 
the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement. Comments were received 
and considered and are reflected in the DEIS made available for comment 
through this notice.
    America's native grasslands are a vanishing ecosystem, and mounting 
evidence indicates that many species dependent upon grasslands are also 
declining. Few other ecosystem types have experienced as great a degree 
of loss and alteration. The population trend in Ohio for grassland 
nongame migratory birds exhibits declines much greater than the 
declines reported nationally. Ohio has also lost more than 90 percent 
of its presettlement wetlands through conversion. An estimated 50 
percent of Ohio's waterways are impaired by agricultural runoff and 
hydro-modification. This project could preserve and restore grassland 
and wetland habitats and play a major role in long term preservation of 
the diverse Little Darby Creek aquatic system.
    Through an integrated and novel ecosystem approach, the Service, 
with its partners, proposes to protect and restore fish and wildlife 
habitats, overall

[[Page 46172]]

biodiversity and compatible land uses in the project area through 
holistic management strategies using a wide variety of tools and 
techniques. The Service proposes to participate in public and private 
partnerships at many levels, complementing and expanding upon local 
projects such as those of the Soil and Water Conservation Districts, 
Ohio Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 
Ohio Department of Agriculture, The Nature Conservancy, and others.
    This notice is provided pursuant to Fish and Wildlife Service 
regulations for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: July 21, 2000.
Marvin E. Moriarty,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 00-18975 Filed 7-26-00; 8:45 am]