[Federal Register: March 21, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 54)]
[Page 14246-14247]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge Complex

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of the Final Comprehensive Conservation 
Plan and Finding of No Significant Impact for five of the seven refuges 
that make up the Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge Complex--
Yazoo, Panther Swamp, Hillside, Morgan Brake, and Mathews Brake--as 
well as a number of smaller fee title properties and floodplain and 
conservation easements in the Mississippi Delta.


SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service announces that a Final 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Finding of No Significant Impact 
for the Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge are 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 these 
refuges will be managed for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: A plan may be obtained by contacting complex manager Tim 
Wilkins at (662) 839-2638; fax (662) 839-2619, or by writing the 
complex manager at 728 Yazoo Refuge Road, Hollandale, Mississippi 
38748. The plan may also be accessed and downloaded from the Service's 
Internet Web site http://southeast.fws.gov/planning/.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Fish and Wildlife Service developed the 
comprehensive conservation plan to provide a foundation for the 
management and use of refuges in the Theodore Roosevelt National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex over the next 15 years. The Complex is 
comprised of seven refuges: Holt Collier (established in 2004), 
Hillside (established in 1975), Mathews Brake (established in 1980), 
Morgan Brake (established in 1977), Panther Swamp (established in 
1978), Theodore Roosevelt (established in 2004), and Yazoo National 
Wildlife Refuge (established in 1936). Separate plans will be prepared 
for Holt Collier and Theodore Roosevelt Refuges.
    Prior to January 2004, the Complex was known as the Central 
Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge Complex. When the January 23, 
2004, Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge Act (Section 145 of 
Pub. L. 108-199--the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004) was 
signed into law by President Bush, the Complex name was changed to the 
Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The Act also 
designated the geographically separate Bogue Phalia Unit of Yazoo 
Refuge as the new Holt Collier Refuge. The Act also directed the 
Secretary of the Interior to established the 6,600-acre Theodore 
Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge. The two new refuges was assembled 
from Farm Service Agency (formerly known as Farmers Home 
Administration) lands already in Service possession. Management and 
uses of the two new refuges will be addressed in future comprehensive 
conservation plans.
    The preferred action is to adopt and implement a comprehensive 
conservation plan that best achieves the purposes for which the Complex 
was established; furthers its vision and goals; contributes to the 
mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System; addresses significant 
issues and applicable mandates; and is consistent with principles of 
sound fish and wildlife management. Implementing the plan will enable 
the Complex to fulfill its critical role in the conservation and 
management of fish and wildlife resources in the Mississippi Delta and 
to provide quality environmental education and wildlife-dependent 
recreation opportunities for visitors. The Service analyzed four 
alternatives for management of the Complex and chose Alternative B as 
the preferred alternative.
    The preferred alternative will promote a greater understanding and 
protection of fish, wildlife, and their habitats and provide quality, 
balanced recreational opportunities for visitors. Hunting and fishing 
will continue with greater emphasis on the quality of the experience. 
Education and interpretation will be promoted through regular programs 
and partnerships with local schools. Wildlife observation and 
photography opportunities will be expanded, including a canoe trail and 
observation towers, highlighting refuge management programs and unique 
wildlife habitats.
    A visitor center and headquarters office will be constructed on 
Yazoo Refuge, with space for interpretation, environmental education, 
and staff.
    Research studies on the refuge will be fostered and partnerships 
developed with universities and other agencies, providing needed 
resources and experiment sites while meeting the needs of the refuge's 
wildlife and habitat management programs. Research will also benefit 
conservation efforts throughout the Mississippi Delta to conserve, 
enhance, restore, and manage native habitat. New surveys on birds, 
reptiles, and amphibians will be initiated to develop baseline 
    Biological technicians, outdoor recreation planners, equipment 
operators, maintenance workers, and park rangers will be added to 
accomplish objectives for the following: establishing baseline data on 
refuge resources; managing habitats; providing opportunities and 
facilities for wildlife observation and photography; providing 
educational programs that promote a greater understanding of the refuge 
resources; and protecting natural and cultural resources and refuge 
    Under this alternative, the complex will continue to seek 
acquisition of lands within the present acquisition boundaries. Lands 
acquired as part of the Complex will be made available for compatible 
wildlife-dependent public recreation and environmental education 
opportunities, where appropriate. Lands that provide high-quality 
habitat and connectivity to existing refuge lands will be priority 
acquisitions. Equally important acquisition tools to be used include: 
transfer lands, partnerships with conservation organizations, 
conservation easements with adjacent landowners, and leases/cooperative 
agreements with state agencies.
    Public comments were requested, considered, and incorporated 
throughout the planning process in numerous ways. Public outreach has 
included open houses, public meetings, technical workgroups, planning 
update mailings, and Federal Register notices. During the draft 
comprehensive conservation plan/environmental assessment comment period 
in October and November 2005, the Service received only one comment 

[[Page 14247]]

which has been addressed through revisions incorporated in the final 

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

    Dated: January 23, 2006
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 06-2673 Filed 3-20-06; 8:45 am]