[Federal Register: June 29, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 124)]
[Page 38914-38916]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of the Sacramento River National Wildlife 
Refuge Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental 
Assessment for Review and Comment, and Notice of Public Meetings

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and notice of public meetings.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces that 
the Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) Draft 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment (Draft 
CCP/EA) is available for review and comment. The Draft CCP/EA was 
prepared pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration 
Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. dd et seq.) (Improvement Act), and 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended, and 
describes how the Service proposes to manage this Refuge over the next 
15 years. Refuge management changes proposed in the draft CCP include: 
Restoration of additional acres of historic riparian habitat; 
increasing public use opportunities including wildlife observation, 
photography, interpretation, and environmental education; opening 
additional areas of the Refuge to fishing; and opening the Refuge to 
waterfowl, deer, and upland gamebird hunting. Also available for review 
with the Draft CCP/EA, are the draft compatibility determinations for 
hunting; fishing; environmental education; wildlife observation, 
photography, and interpretation; research; camping and boating; 
farming; and grazing.

DATES: Please provide written comments to the address below by August 
20, 2004. Public meetings will be held on:
    1. July 20, 2004, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Willows, CA.
    2. July 21, 2004, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Chico, CA.
    3. July 27, 2004, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Red Bluff, CA.
    4. July 29, 2004, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Colusa, CA.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the Draft CCP/EA should be addressed to Jackie 
Ferrier, Refuge Planner, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 
752 County Road 99 W, Willows, California, 95988. Comments may also be 
submitted at the public meetings or via

[[Page 38915]]

electronic mail to Sacramentovalleyrefuges@fws.gov.
    The public meeting locations are:
    1. Willows Memorial Hall, 525 W. Sycamore Street, Willows, CA.
    2. Masonic Family Center, 1110 W. East Avenue, Chico, CA.
    3. Community Center--Rose Room, 1500 S. Jackson Street, Red Bluff, 
    4. Colusa Industrial Properties--Conference Room, 50 Sunrise 
Boulevard, Colusa, CA.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Project Leader, Sacramento National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex, 752 County Road 99 W, Willows, California 
95988, (530) 934-2801, or Jackie Ferrier, Refuge Planner, Sacramento 
National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 752 County Road 99 W, Willows, 
California 95988, (530) 934-2801.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Copies of the Draft CCP/EA may be obtained 
by writing to Jackie Ferrier, Refuge Planner, Sacramento National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex, 752 County Road 99 W, Willows, California 
95988. Copies of the Draft CCP/EA may be viewed at this address and are 
also available for viewing and downloading online at http://sacramentovalleyrefuges.fws.gov or http://pacific.fws.gov/planning. 

Printed documents will be available for review at the following 
libraries: Bayliss Library in Glenn; Butte County Library in Chico; 
Butte County Library in Oroville; Colusa County Library in Colusa; 
Colusa County Library in Princeton; Corning Library in Corning; Orland 
City Library in Orland; Tehama County Library in Los Molinos; Tehama 
County Library in Red Bluff; and Willows Public Library in Willows.


    The Refuge was established in 1989 by the authority provided under 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956, 
and the Emergency Wetlands Resources Act of 1986, using funds made 
available through the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965. 
Sacramento River Refuge is part of the Sacramento National Wildlife 
Refuge Complex located in the Sacramento Valley of north-central 
California. The Refuge is located along both banks of the Sacramento 
River between Red Bluff and Princeton, California, in Glenn, Butte, and 
Tehama Counties. The Refuge is managed to maintain, enhance and restore 
habitats for threatened and endangered species, migratory birds, 
anadromous fish and native fish, wildlife, and plants.

Proposed Action

    The Proposed Action is to adopt and implement a Comprehensive 
Conservation Plan for the Sacramento River Refuge that best achieves 
the Refuge's purposes; contributes to the National Wildlife Refuge 
System mission; addresses significant issues and relevant mandates; and 
is consistent with sound fish and wildlife management. A CCP is 
required by the Improvement Act of 1997. The purpose in developing CCPs 
is to provide refuge managers with a 15-year strategy for achieving 
refuge purposes and contributing to the mission of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System. The CCP must be consistent with sound 
principles of fish and wildlife science and conservation; and legal 
mandates and Service policies. In addition to outlining refuge 
management direction for conserving wildlife and their habitats, CCPs 
identify wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities available to the 
public such as hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, 
and environmental education and interpretation.


    The Draft CCP/EA identifies and evaluates three alternatives for 
managing Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge for the next 15 
years. Each alternative describes a combination of habitat and public 
use management prescriptions designed to achieve Refuge purposes. Of 
the alternatives described below, the Service believes that Alternative 
B would best achieve these elements, and is, therefore, identified as 
the Preferred Alternative.
    Alternative A, the no action alternative, assumes no change from 
current management programs and is considered the baseline to compare 
other alternatives. Under this alternative, the focus of the Refuge 
would be to continue to restore and maintain riparian habitat for 
threatened and endangered species, migratory birds, anadromous and 
native fish, wildlife, and plants. The Refuge would remain closed to 
visitor services other than the limited existing opportunity for 
fishing at Packer Lake. Hunting, camping, wildlife observation and 
photography would not be allowed and access to the Refuge would be 
limited. Riparian restoration activities would continue on the eight 
units (La Barranca, Ohm, Pine Creek, Capay, Phelan Island, Dead Man's 
Reach, Hartley Island, Drumheller Slough) covered under the 
Environmental Assessment for Proposed Activities on Sacramento River 
National Wildlife Refuge (2002). Current funding and staffing levels 
would remain the same.
    Alternative B, the preferred alternative would use active and 
passive management practices to achieve and maintain full restoration 
and enhancement of all units on the Refuge (5,855 acres), where 
appropriate. The agricultural program would be phased out as funding 
for restoration is obtained and restoration takes place. Public use 
activities would be optimized to allow for a balance of wildlife-
dependant public uses (fishing, hunting, environmental education, 
interpretation, wildlife observation and photography) throughout the 
entire Refuge. Eighty-four percent of the Refuge would be open for 
environmental education, interpretation, wildlife observation and 
photography. Hunting would be allowed on 55 percent of the Refuge. 
Twenty-three river miles of seasonally submerged areas would be opened 
to fishing. Camping would be allowed below the ordinary high water mark 
on gravel bars. Trails and access to the Refuge would also be improved. 
Staffing and funding levels would need to increase to implement this 
    Alternative C would accelerate habitat restoration and maximize 
public use. The Refuge would use active and passive management 
practices to achieve and maintain full restoration and enhancement of 
all units on the Refuge (5,855 acres), where appropriate, as funding 
becomes available. The agricultural program would end as funding is 
obtained, and full restoration efforts take place. Public use 
activities would allow wildlife-dependant public uses throughout the 
majority of the Refuge (84 percent). Hunting would be allowed on 73 
percent of the Refuge. Twenty-three river miles of seasonally submerged 
areas would be opened to fishing, and camping would be allowed below 
the ordinary high water mark on gravel bars. Trails and access to the 
Refuge would also be improved. Funding and staffing levels would have 
to increase substantially to implement this alternative.

Features Common to All Alternatives

    All three alternatives include a number of features in common. 
Under each alternative, riparian vegetation on La Barranca, Ohm, Pine 
Creek, Capay, Phelan Island, Dead Man's Reach, Hartley Island and 
Drumheller Slough units would be restored and enhanced. These 
restoration activities are addressed in the Environmental Assessment 
for Proposed Restoration Activities on the Sacramento River

[[Page 38916]]

National Wildlife Refuge (2002). Other continuing activities include 
baseline surveys and monitoring, fire management, law enforcement, and 
fishing at Packer Lake.

    Dated: June 22, 2004.
D. Kenneth McDermond,
Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Fish and Wildlife 
[FR Doc. 04-14670 Filed 6-28-04; 8:45 am]