[Federal Register: December 15, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 242)]
[Page 78501-78502]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Intent To Issue a Final Comprehensive Conservation 
Plan, Associated Environmental Assessment, and Finding of No 
Significant Impact for Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in the 
Southwest Region

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (Service) has prepared a Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan 
(CCP), associated Environmental Assessment (EA), and a Finding of No 
Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Sevilleta Lake National Wildlife 
Refuge, San Acacia, New Mexico, pursuant to the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, and National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969, and its implementing regulations. The Regional 
Director, Southwest Regional Office, upon issuing a FONSI, considered a 
reasonable range of management framework alternatives.
    Approval of the Sevilleta NWR CCP formalizes 10 goals which will 
result in:
     The enhancement, preservation, and protection of 
threatened and endangered species as they occur naturally or were 
historically present on the Sevilleta NWR so that viable, self-
sustaining populations can be restored to their natural habitats. (Goal 
     The restoration and maintenance of the natural diversity 
of plants and animals as it occurred historically on the Sevilleta NWR. 
(Goal 2)
     The fostering and encouragement of research from bonafide 
research institutions, the provision of an atmosphere conducive to 
investigations into environmental processes on the refuge, and the 
assumption of pro-active role in facilitating research projects as they 
occur on the refuge. (Goal 3)
     The protection of existing, and acquisition of additional 
water rights and/or in-stream flow rights as necessary to protect the 
integrity of the riparian and aquatic habitats on the refuge. (Goal 4)
     The achievement of appropriate levels of public uses that 
are compatible with the purpose(s) for which the refuge was established 
and with the goals of the National Wildlife Refuge System; and the 
regulation of, as provided by law, all activities, uses, and practices 
that are potentially harmful to refuge resources. (Goal 5)
     The establishment of a formal program for public outreach, 
identification of important public resources, and implementation of 
environmental education programs accordingly. (Goal 6)
     The protection, maintenance, and monitoring of Service-
managed cultural resources on Sevilleta NWR for the benefit of present 
and future generations. (Goal 7)
     The protection of existing lands associated with Sevilleta 
NWR for the benefit of fish and wildlife resources; the acquisition of 
additional lands; and the protection of the integrity of Refuge 
boundaries relative to adjacent lands. (Goal 8)
     The improvement of funding, facilities, and staffing that 
will result in enhancement of refuge habitat and wildlife resources, 
leading to the achievement of the goals of this plan and the goals of 
the National Wildlife Refuge System. (Goal 9)
     The strengthening of interagency and jurisdictional 
coordination on or near the Sevilleta NWR resulting in decisions 
benefitting fish and wildlife resources while avoiding duplication of 
effort. (Goal 10)
    Some of the specific changes to the existing program changes 
include but are not necessarily limited to the following objectives:
     Continue implementation of the Mexican wolf captive 
propagation program on the refuge, and ensure continued operation 
within all applicable regulations, protocols, and safety guidelines.
     Preserve refuge habitat diversity and threatened and 
endangered species habitats by preserving and restoring habitats to 
their natural condition. This may involve aggressive removal of non-
native plants (e.g., salt cedar) and wildlife (e.g., oryx, Barbary 
     Maintain a viable population of silvery minnows on the Rio 
Grande within the refuge.
     Provide up to 100 acres of additional cottonwood/willow 
habitat for the southwestern willow flycatcher.
     By the end of FY 2001 (September 30, 2001), assess the 
refuge's full wilderness attributes, and determine appropriate areas 
within the full spectrum of the refuge for study and designation as 
Wilderness Study Areas. Included will be the dedication of between 
3,000 and 8,000 acres as the Ladron Wilderness Study Area.
     Evaluate refuge grasslands potential as an introduction 
site for the endangered northern Aplomado falcon.
     Protect threatened and endangered species on the refuge 
and adjacent properties through outreach, educational activities and 
effective enforcement of fish and wildlife laws.
     Promote and support the introduction of native threatened 
and endangered species on the refuge.
     Ensure the integrity of all naturally occurring biotic 
communities on the Sevilleta NWR.
     Maintain migratory bird populations at healthy levels in 
the Upper/Middle Rio Grande Ecosystem.
     Reverse declining trends in quality and quantity of 
riparian/wetland habitats; restore, maintain, and enhance the species 
composition, aerial extent, and spatial distribution of riparian/
wetland habitats.
     Protect, restore, and maintain upland terrestrial 
communities at the landscape level within the Upper/Middle Rio Grande 
     Use sound land use practices and management tools to 
protect upland terrestrial habitats in the Upper/Middle Rio Grande 
     Preserve, enhance, and restore hydrological regimes to 
perpetuate a

[[Page 78502]]

healthy river ecosystem. Use the Rio Grande Initiative to form 
partnerships that address water management, habitat enhancement, and 
restoration, and impacts of non-native plants and animals on biological 
diversity and endangered species.
     Compile a database of the baseline natural conditions, 
processes, and species associated within refuge ecosystems.
     Attain baseline natural conditions, processes, and 
populations of species in 50 percent of each habitat type by 2010. If 
attainment is not possible, implement adaptive management strategies 
designed to attain desired conditions.
     Contribute to the integrity of the Upper/Middle Rio Grande 
Watershed using sound management tools and practices.
     Map and determine aquifer sources and characteristics of 
upland seeps, springs, and other water sources on the refuge.
     Quantify water needs to maintain 90 acres of existing 
refuge wetlands and to restore 500 acres of wetlands associated with 
the Rio Grande.
     Acquire in-stream flow rights for the perennial portion of 
the Rio Salado, Rio Puerco, and other tributary streams.
     Develop partnerships, relationships, and communications to 
improve implementation of refuge wildlife and habitat management goals.
     Minimize human impacts to refuge ecosystems.
     Encourage research that improves management and monitoring 
of species, communities, and processes on the refuge and the Upper/
Middle Rio Grande.
     Permit and encourage research from a wide range of 
interested parties and institutions while protecting the plants and 
wildlife of the ecosystem from detrimental human intrusion and 
manipulative research protocols.
     Minimize impacts of formal research activities.
     Provide the research community a unique opportunity to 
conduct wildlife-related research, which in turn provides the refuge 
with management direction.
     Provide the general public with high quality, wildlife-
dependent experiences on and off the refuge.
     Provide the general public with high quality environmental 
education and wildlife-dependent experiences on and off the refuge.
     Develop sound management practices to protect cultural 
resources, within the scope of Part 614 of the Service Manual and all 
applicable federal laws and regulations.
     Minimize obtrusive impacts to refuge lands or adjacent 
     Document the need for additional staffing.
     Obtain adequate staffing to implement management plans 
benefiting the Upper/Middle Rio Grande Ecosystem both on and off refuge 
     Improve facilities to enhance refuge capabilities and 
resources, including the construction of an 8,000- square foot visitor 
center/ administrative complex; two 1,500- square foot staff 
residences; and a multi-unit living facility for refuge volunteers.
     Relocate the law enforcement training shooting range to a 
new location to eliminate the current hazards.
    The implementation of the above management approaches among others 
and employment of strategies associated with those approaches should 
assist in the achievement of the refuge's broad goals:
    Based on a review and evaluation of the information contained in 
the CCP and EA for the Sevilleta NWR, the Regional Director, Southwest 
Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has determined that the 
approval of the individual or cumulative approaches reflected in the 
Proposed Alternative and CCP Goals, Objectives and Strategies, is not 
deemed to constitute a major Federal action which would significantly 
affect the quality of the human environment within the meaning of 
Section 102(2)(c) of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 
Therefore, an Environmental Impact Statement is not required. However, 
it is the intent of the Service to revisit questions of potential 
significant environmental consequences in accordance with NEPA upon 
consideration of the implementation of site specific proposals called 
for and discussed in the final plan document.

ADDRESSES: A paper copy and/or a Compact Disk copy may be obtained by 
writing to: Mr. Tom Baca, Natural Resources Planner, Division of 
Refuges, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: It is Service policy to have all lands 
within the National Wildlife Refuge System managed in accordance with 
an approved CCP. The CCP guides management decisions and identifies 
refuge goals, long-range objectives, and strategies for achieving 
refuge purposes. The planning process has considered many elements, 
including habitat and wildlife management, habitat protection and 
acquisition, public and recreational uses, and cultural resources. 
Public input into this planning process has assisted in the development 
of these documents. 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 considered comments and advice generated in response to 
draft documents issued in November 1998. The Service is furnishing this 
notice in compliance with Service CCP policy to advise other agencies 
and the public of the availability of the final documents.

    Dated: November 30, 2000.
Thomas C. Bauer,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 00-31747 Filed 12-14-00; 8:45 am]