[Federal Register: July 13, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 133)]
[Page 40396-40397]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge

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

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare a Comprehensive Conservation Plan 
and Environmental Assessment for Upper Ouachita National Wildlife 
Refuge in Union and Morehouse Parishes, Louisiana.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the fish and Wildlife 
Service, Southeast Region, intends to gather information necessary to 
prepare a Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment 
for Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge, pursuant to the National 
Environmental Policy Act and its implementing regulations.
    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as 
amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, 
requires the Service to develop a comprehensive conservation plan for 
each national wildlife refuge. The purpose in developing a 
comprehensive conservation plan is to provide refuge managers with a 
15-year strategy for achieving refuge purposes and contributing toward 
the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System, consistent with 
sound principles of fish and wildlife management, conservation, legal 
mandates, and Service policies. In addition to outlining broad 
management direction on conserving wildlife and their habitats, plans 
identify wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities available to the 
public, including opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife 
observation, wildlife photography, and environmental education and 
    The purpose of this notice is to achieve the following:
    1. Advise other agencies and the public of our intentions, and
    2. Obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to 
include in the environmental document.

DATES: An open house style meeting will be held during the scoping 
phase and public draft phase of the comprehensive conservation plan 
development process. Special mailings, newspaper articles, and other 
media announcements will be used to inform the public and state and 
local government agencies of the dates and opportunities for input 
throughout the planning process.

ADDRESSES: Comments and requests for more information regarding Upper 
Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge's planning process should be sent to 
Lindy Garner, Planning Biologist, North Louisiana National Wildlife 
Refuge Complex, 11372 Highway 143, Farmerville, Louisiana 71241; 
Telephone: (318) 726-4222; Fax: (318) 726-4667; Electronic-mail: 
northlarefuges@fws.gov. To ensure consideration, written comments must 
be received no later than August 29, 2005. Our practice is to make 
comments, including names and addresses of respondents, available for 
public review during regular business hours. Individual respondents may 
request that we withhold their home addresses from the record, which we 
will honor to the extent allowable by law.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge was 
established in November 1978. The

[[Page 40397]]

purposes of the refuge are ``for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for 
any other management purpose, for migratory birds'' (Migratory Bird 
Conservation Act, 16 U.S.C. 715d); ``* * * the conservation of the 
wetlands of the nation in order to maintain the public benefits they 
provide and to help fulfill international obligations contained in 
various migratory bird treaties and conventions. * * *'' (16 U.S.C. 
    Upper Ouachita Refuge is located in northeastern Louisiana. The 
northern boundary lies on the Louisiana-Arkansas State line. The refuge 
borders both sides of the Ouachita River for 13.7 miles and extends 3.3 
miles to the east and 13 miles to the west. The refuge extends 
approximately 20 miles in a north-south direction, and its widest east-
west dimension is approximately 16 miles. The southernmost point on the 
refuge is approximately 20 miles north of Monroe, Louisiana. The refuge 
lies within the Ouachita River Basin, which encompasses much of 
southwest Arkansas and northeast Louisiana.
    The refuge consists of 4,540 acres of pine and pine/hardwood mix, 
19,767 acres of bottomland hardwoods, 2,000 acres of shrub-scrub, 1,182 
acres of moist soil, 2,540 acres of agricultural fields, 9,236 acres of 
reforested bottomlands, 474 acres of fallow agricultural fields, and 
2,907 acres of open water. Wildlife species found on the refuge are 
typical of forested wetlands, moist soils, early successional forests, 
and upland hardwood/pine habitats. The refuge provides habitat for 
thousands of wintering ducks and geese and year-round habitat for 
nesting wood ducks. Although no large rookeries are located on the 
refuge, thousands of wading and water birds, such as white ibis, 
herons, egrets, wood storks, cormorants, and anhingas, forage in the 
sloughs, bayous, and Mollicy Unit. Many neotropical migratory birds 
breed on the refuge while other species use the refuge during 
migration, especially along the Ouachita River. Resident game species 
include fox and gray squirrels, rabbits, and deer. Furbearers present 
include muskrat, nutria, mink, river otter, beaver, red and gray fox, 
and racoon.
    Three threatened and endangered species utilize the refuge. 
Currently, there is one active group of the endangered red-cockaded 
woodpecker on the refuge. Threatened Louisiana black bear have become 
more common on the refuge recently. Many threatened bald eagles are 
seen during the year, mainly winter, on the refuge. Bald eagles have 
also begun to nest successfully on the refuge within the last three 
    Hunting and fishing opportunities are permitted on most areas of 
the refuge, and is open year-round for wildlife observation, nature 
photography, and hiking.
    The Service will conduct a comprehensive conservation planning 
process that will provide opportunity for State and local governments, 
agencies, organizations, and the public to participate in issue scoping 
and public comment. Comments received by the Planning Team will be used 
as part of the planning process.

    Authority: This notice is published under the authority of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, Public Law 

    Dated: June 17, 2005.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 05-13730 Filed 7-12-05; 8:45 am]