[Federal Register: August 21, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 162)]
[Page 54229-54230]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Intent to Prepare a Comprehensive Conservation Plan and 
Associated Environmental Impact Statement for the Desert National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare a Comprehensive Conservation Plan 
and Associated Environmental Impact Statement for the Desert National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (Service) intends to gather information necessary to prepare a 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and an associated Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS) for the Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex. 
The Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex is composed of Ash Meadows 
National Wildlife Refuge, Desert National Wildlife Range, Moapa Valley 
National Wildlife Refuge and Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge 
located in Clark, Lincoln and Nye Counties, Nevada. A Wilderness Review 
of Desert National Wildlife Range will also be completed concurrently 
in accordance with the Wilderness Act of 1964, as amended, and Refuge 
Planning Policy 602 FW Chapters 1, 2, and 3. The Service is furnishing 
this notice in compliance with our National Wildlife Refuge Planning 
Policy and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended 
(NEPA), and implementing regulations, to advise other agencies, Tribal 
Governments, and the public of our intentions, and to obtain 
suggestions and information on the scope of issues and alternatives to 
include in the CCP and the environmental document.

DATES: A series of public scoping meetings will be held on September 16 
through September 19 at the following locations:

              Date                     Time              Location
Sept. 16, 2002.................          7-9 pm   Moapa Community
                                                   Center, Moapa Valley,
Sept. 17, 2002.................          7-9 pm   Fish and Wildlife
                                                   Service Office, Las
                                                   Vegas, NV.
Sept. 18, 2002.................          4-6 pm   Amargosa Valley Multi-
                                                   purpose Building,
                                                   Amargosa Valley, NV.
Sept. 18, 2002.................          7-9 pm   Bob Ruud Community
                                                   Center, Pahrump, NV.
Sept. 19, 2002.................          7-9 pm   Alamo Annex Building,
                                                   Alamo, NV.

    Interested persons are encouraged to attend these meetings to 
identify issues, concerns, and opportunities to be addressed in the 
CCP. For directions to the meetings, please contact us at the phone 
number listed below. To ensure that the Service has adequate time to 
evaluate and incorporate suggestions and other input into the planning 
process, comments should be received within 60 days from the date of 
this notice.

ADDRESSES: Address comments and requests to be put on the mailing list, 
receive more information, or receive a copy of the most recent planning 
update to: Project Leader, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4701 North 
Torrey Pines, Las Vegas, NV 89130 or call the Complex at (702) 515-
5450. Submit faxes to (702) 515-5460. If you choose to submit comments 
via electronic mail, visit http://desertcomplex.fws.gov and use the 
``Guest Mailbox'' provided at that site. More information on the CCP 
process is also available at the above internet site by selecting the 
``CCP Planning Update'' link.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Richard Birger, Project Leader, at the 
address and phone number above.


Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

    Established in 1984 under the authority of the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, as amended, the Refuge comprises 23,000 acres of spring 
fed wetlands, mesquite bosques, and desert uplands that provide habitat 
for at least 24 plants and animal species found nowhere else in the 
world. The primary purpose of the Refuge is to provide for the 
protection and recovery of endangered fish and plants, such as Devil's 
Hole, Ash Meadows Amargosa, and Warm Springs pupfish, Ash Meadows 
speckled dace, Ash Meadows milk-vetch, spring-loving centaury plant, 
Ash Meadows sunray, Ash Meadows ivesia, Ash Meadows gumplant, and Ash 
Meadows blazing star. The Amargosa Pupfish Station, located within the 
Refuge, is home to a vertebrate species that may have one of the most 
restricted habitats on the planet. The most striking feature of the

[[Page 54230]]

Refuge is the more than 30 spring-fed pools and streams that contrast 
sharply with the arid desert that surround them.

Desert National Wildlife Range

    The Refuge, established in 1936 by Executive Order No. 7373 for the 
protection, preservation and management of desert bighorn sheep, as 
well as other forms of native flora and fauna occurring on the Refuge, 
encompasses 1.5 million acres of the diverse Mojave Desert in southern 
Nevada. It is the largest National Wildlife Refuge in the lower 48 
    The Military Lands Withdrawal Act of 1999, Pub. L. No. 106-65, 
authorized the withdrawal of 2,919,890 acres of public lands in Clark, 
Nye, and Lincoln Counties, Nevada from all forms of appropriation under 
the public lands laws (including the mining laws and the mineral 
leasing and the geothermal leasing laws). These withdrawn lands were 
reserved for use by the Secretary of the Air Force for military 
testing, training and other defense-related purposes. During the period 
of withdrawal, the Act provides that the lands within the Desert 
National Wildlife Range will be managed by the Secretary of the 
Interior pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration 
Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd, et seq.) and other laws applicable to the 
National Wildlife Refuge System. Pursuant to a Memorandum of 
Understanding with the Secretary of the Air Force, The Secretary of the 
Interior is to manage withdrawn lands for the purposes for which the 
Refuge was established and to support current and future military 
aviation training.

Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge

    The Refuge was established September 10, 1979, under the authority 
of the Endangered Species Act of 1969, as amended, to secure habitat 
for the endangered Moapa dace. The Refuge is located on 106 acres in 
northeastern Clark County. Due to its small size, fragile habitats, on-
going habitat restoration work, and unsafe structures, the Refuge is 
currently closed to the general public.

Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge

    The Refuge was established in 1963, under the authority of the 
Migratory Bird Conservation Act, as amended, to provide protection and 
habitat for migrating birds in the Pahranagat Valley. The 5,382 acre 
refuge consists of marshes, meadows, lakes, and upland desert habitat. 
It provides nesting, resting, and feeding areas for ducks, geese, 
swans, and other birds.

Background and Planning Process

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as 
amended, requires the Service to manage all lands within the National 
Wildlife Refuge System in accordance with an approved CCP (16 U.S.C. 
668dd(e)). The CCP will guide wildlife, habitat, and public use 
management decisions and identify refuge goals, long-range objectives, 
and strategies for achieving Refuge purposes. Public input into this 
planning process is encouraged. 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 over 
the next 15 years. Until the CCP is completed, Refuge management will 
continue to be guided by refuge purposes, federal legislation regarding 
management of national wildlife refuges, and other legal, regulatory 
and policy guidance.
    Comments and concerns received will be used to develop goals, key 
issues and management strategies, and draft alternatives. Additional 
opportunities for public participation will occur throughout the CCP 
process, which is expected to be completed by 2005. Input from 
interested federal, state, and local agencies, Native American tribes, 
organizations and individuals is encouraged.
    During development of the CCP, we will comply with the provisions 
of NEPA through concurrent preparation of an EIS that will accompany 
the CCP. The draft EIS will contain a No Action Alternative, a proposed 
action alternative, and potentially other alternatives. The 
alternatives will be used to define management options and compare 
their effects. The potential environmental impacts of each alternative 
will be analyzed in the draft EIS. A range of alternatives (and their 
effects on the biological resources and on the local communities) that 
address the issues and the management strategies associated with the 
issues will be evaluated in the EIS.
    We are required by Service policy to complete a wilderness review 
of Service managed lands to determine if any lands are suitable for 
inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System. The 
wilderness review will be integrated into the CCP/EIS process including 
identification of areas that meet the minimum wilderness criteria; 
evaluation of the wilderness suitability of alternatives; and 
documentation of recommendations. Wilderness designation requires 
Congressional legislation. The last step, if appropriate, would consist 
of forwarding any suitable recommendations from the Director of the 
Service, through the Secretary of the Interior and the President, to 
Congress in a Wilderness Study Report.


    With the publication of this notice, the public is encouraged to 
help identify potential issues, management actions and concerns; 
significant problems or impacts; and opportunities to resolve them. The 
public scoping period will continue for 60 days from the date of this 
notice. However, the Service will accept comments throughout the 
planning process.
    All comments received from individuals on environmental impact 
statements become part of the official public record. Requests for such 
comments will be handled in accordance with the Freedom of Information 
Act, the Council on Environmental Quality's NEPA regulations 
[40CFR1506.6(f)] and other Service and Departmental policy and 
    The environmental review of this project will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), NEPA 
Regulations (40 CFR 1500-1508), other appropriate Federal laws and 
regulations, Executive Order 12996, and Service policies and procedures 
for compliance with those regulations.

    Dated: August 7, 2002.
Ken McDermond,
Acting Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 02-20699 Filed 8-20-02; 8:45 am]