[Federal Register: November 3, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 212)]
[Page 66844-66845]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

AGENCY: Notice of availability of the Final Comprehensive Conservation 
Plan for Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge in Avoyelles Parish, 


SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service announces that a Final 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan for Lake Ophelia National Wildlife 
Refuge is available for distribution. The plan was prepared pursuant to 
the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, and in 
accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and 
describes how the refuge will be managed for the next 15 years. The 
compatibility determinations for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation 
and photography, environmental education and interpretation, all-
terrain vehicle use, trapping of selected furbearers, cooperative 
farming, forest management, and resource research studies, are also 
available within the plan.

ADDRESSES: A copy of the plan may be obtained by writing to the Lake 
Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge, 401 Island Road, Marksville, 
Louisiana 71351. The plan may also be accessed and downloaded from the 
Service's Web site http://southeast.fwa.gov/planning/.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge is 
located in north Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, about 15 miles northeast 
of the city of Marksville and 30 miles southeast of the city of 
Alexandria. The refuge covers a total of 17,525 acres within the 
38,000-acre acquisition boundary and lies approximately 8 miles 
northwest of where the Red River empties into the Atchafalaya River. 
This region is part of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. The refuge 
consists of a complex of forested wetlands, shrub wetland habitats, 
recently reforested areas, agricultural lands, moist-soil areas, open 
waters, and dirt access roads and trails. Annually, more than 10,000 
visitors participate in refuge activities.
    The availability of the Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and 
Environmental Assessment for a 45-day public review and comment period 
was announced in the Federal Register on April 5, 2005, volume 70, 
number 64. The plan and environmental assessment identified and 
evaluated four alternatives for managing the refuge over the next 15 
years. Alternative 1, the ``no action'' alternative, would have 
continued current management of the refuge and all lands within the 
approved 38,000-acre acquisition boundary would be purchased. Under 
Alternative 2, the ``preferred alternative,'' 38,000 acres of refuge 
lands would be protected, maintained, and enhanced by adding more 
staff, equipment, and facilities in order to restore and manage the 
refuge's forest, wetland, and moist-soil habitats, and hydrology in 
support of wildlife, especially waterfowl, neotropical migratory birds, 
and Louisiana black bears. Alternative 3 would add more staff, 
equipment, and facilities in order to maximize bottomland hardwood 
forest restoration in support of migratory birds and other wildlife. 
Under this alternative, 17,525 acres of refuge lands would be 
protected, maintained, restored, and enhanced for resident wildlife, 
waterfowl, neotropical migratory birds, and threatened and endangered 
species. Additionally, the acquisition boundary would be expanded 
(77,000 acres) to create forested linkages with the State of 
Louisiana's Spring Bayou and Grassy Lake wildlife management areas. 
Alternative 4 would add more staff, equipment, and facilities in order 
to restore the refuge's wetland hydrology in support of migratory 
birds, particularly waterfowl and shorebirds.
    Based on the environmental assessment and the comments received, 
the Service adopted Alternative 2 as its preferred alternative. This 
alternative was considered to be the most effective for meeting the 
purposes of the refuge by conserving wetlands and reducing forest 
fragmentation by identifying lands of conservation priority and working 
with partners to contribute to the 100,000-acre forest block objective

[[Page 66845]]

for the Red River/Three Rivers Source Population Objective Area. 
Alternative 2 best achieves national, ecosystem, and refuge-specific 
goals and objectives and positively addresses significant issues and 
concerns expressed by the public.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tina Chouinard, Natural Resource 
Planner, Central Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex, telephone: 
(318) 253-4238; fax: (318) 253-7139; e-mail: tina_chouinard@fws.gov; 
or by writing to the Natural Resource Planner at the address in the 
ADDRESSES section.

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

    Dated: July 18, 2005.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 05-21907 Filed 11-2-05; 8:45 am]