[Federal Register: May 29, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 103)]
[Page 37436-37437]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and 
Environmental Assessment for Waubay National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 
Waubay, SD

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announces that a Draft 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and the Environmental Assessment (CCP/
EA) for Waubay National Wildlife Refuge and Wetland Management District 
Complex (Complex) is available for review and comment. This CCP/EA, 
prepared pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement 
Act of 1997 and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 
describes how the U.S. Fish& Wildlife Service intends to manage the 
Complex for the next 15 years.

DATES: Please submit comments on the Draft CCP/EA on or before June 28, 

ADDRESSES: Comments on the Draft CCP/EA should be addressed to: Bridget 
McCann, Planning Team Leader, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 
25486, DFC, Denver, CO 80225-0486.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Larry Martin, Project Leader, U.S. Fish & 
Wildlife Service, Waubay National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 44401 134A 
Street, Waubay, SD 57273; (605) 947-4521; fax (605) 947-4524; or 
Bridget McCann, Planning Team Leader, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 
P.O. Box 25486, DFC, Denver, CO 80225-0486; (303) 236-8145 ext. 685; 
fax (303) 236-4792.


Availability of Documents

    Copies of the Draft CCP/EA may be obtained by writing to Larry 
Martin, Project Leader, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Waubay National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex, 44401 134A Street, Waubay, SD 57273. The Draft 
CCP/EA will also be available for viewing and downloading online at 


    Waubay National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), comprised of 4,650 acres, is 
located in Day County in northeastern South Dakota. The Refuge's mix of 
lakes, wetlands, prairie, forests, and cropland is home to a diversity 
of wildlife. More than 100 bird species nest on this small piece of 
habitat, with 37 mammals also calling it home.

[[Page 37437]]

Waubay NWR was established by President Roosevelt in 1935 as ``a refuge 
and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.''
    Waubay Wetland Management District (WMD) protects over 250,000 
acres of wetlands and prairie in six counties of northeastern South 
Dakota. The area's mix of native grass, planted grasses, cropland, and 
wetlands support a variety of wildlife. Wildlife communities are 
dependent on the abundant grasslands or wetlands, or both. The WMD is 
home to 247 species of birds,43 species of mammals, and over 20 species 
of amphibians and reptiles. Breeding waterfowl and grassland-dependent 
passerines are two groups that are especially prominent.
    This Draft CCP/EA identifies and evaluates three alternatives for 
managing Waubay National Wildlife Refuge Complex in northeastern South 
Dakota for the next 15 years.
    Under Alternative A, the No Action alternative, current management 
of the Complex would continue; programs would follow the same 
direction, emphasis, and intensity as they do at present. No additional 
restoration of grasslands would occur on the Refuge. No effort would be 
made to enhance or research the importance of Refuge woodlands. 
Grassland and wetland easements on the WMD would continue to be 
purchased at current levels from willing sellers, averaging 10,000 and 
2,000 acres per year, respectively. Fee-title acquisitions would be 
limited to exceptional tracts or those requiring special protection, or 
particular roundouts to WaterfowlProduction Areas (WPAs). Wildlife 
monitoring on the Complex would be limited to mostly waterfowl surveys 
with incidental sightings of threatened and endangered species. Public 
use programs would continue, as is, with no additional educational or 
recreational programs offered. White-tailed deer hunting on the Refuge 
would continue for archery, rifle, and muzzleloader seasons. Providing 
deer hunts for youth and people with disabilities would not be planned 
for. Ice fishing, with current restrictions, would be allowed on the 
Refuge. Waterfowl Production Areas on the WMD would remain open to 
hunting, fishing, and trapping in accordance with State regulations. 
Development of an environmental education center would not be explored.
    Alternative B would focus on protecting remaining tracts of native 
tallgrass prairie, restoring diversity to degraded grassland sites, 
replanting croplands to native grasses and forbs, and enhancing and 
maintaining these sites to support a functioning prairie ecosystem.
    Protection of tallgrass prairie would be accomplished through fee-
title acquisition, easements or through partnerships with State, Tribal 
or private organizations. In order to concentrate protection, 
restoration and management efforts in the WMD, especially in the target 
area of the Minnesota-Red River Lowlands, activities and management on 
the Refuge would be reduced to minimum levels. Restoration and 
management of Refuge woodlands would not occur. Threatened and 
endangered species on the Complex would be documented, but additional 
surveys or inventory plans would not be initiated. Protection, 
restoration, management, and wildlife monitoring efforts would increase 
in the Minnesota-Red River Lowlands, where tallgrass prairie 
historically occurred. Other parts of the WMD would receive minimal 
attention in terms of management and wildlife monitoring. Current 
hunting and fishing seasons on the Refuge would continue with no effort 
to expand or offer more accessible opportunities. An increase in fee-
title lands would provide expanded opportunities for hunting, fishing, 
and trapping on the WMD. No changes would be made on the Refuge to 
provide additional trails or other wildlife observation opportunities. 
An education/visitor/research center within the Tallgrass Prairie 
Ecosystem would be developed to educate the public and provide a place 
for long-term studies on the dynamics and richness of this threatened 
habitat. Other interpretive and educational programs and special events 
on the Complex would be minimized to focus staff energies on the 
tallgrass prairie.
    Under alternative C, the proposed action, management of the Complex 
would be much more aggressive and proactive. Fee-title lands would be 
managed and monitored to maintain higher quality habitat. All tame 
grasslands on the Refuge would be converted to native grasslands. Food 
plots within native woodlands on the Refuge would be restored to native 
trees to reduce edge effects and brown-headed cowbird populations. 
Native woodlands on the WMD would be protected where necessary. An 
inventory and monitoring plan would be developed for threatened and 
endangered species and State species at risk on the Complex. Public use 
and recreation on the Complex would be expanded to provide additional 
and improved educational experiences for visitors. Current hunting 
opportunities on the Refuge would be augmented by offering youth hunts 
and/or hunts for people with disabilities. Ice fishing on the Refuge, 
with current restrictions, would continue. Opportunities for wildlife 
observation, wildlife photography, environmental education and 
interpretation would be expanded on the Complex. The development of an 
outdoor classroom would be explored. The headquarters building would be 
expanded. One or two additional hiking trails would be developed on the 
Refuge. A more active volunteer program would be developed and 
promoted. Educational programs offered for schools in the WMD would 
increase, as would interpretive opportunities for visitors to WPAs.

    Dated: May 7, 2002.
Ralph O. Morgenweck,
Regional Director, Region 6, Denver, Colorado.
[FR Doc. 02-13319 Filed 5-28-02; 8:45 am]