[Federal Register: June 20, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 118)]
[Page 35445-35446]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Chickasaw, Hatchie, Lower Hatchie, Reelfoot, and Lake Isom 
National Wildlife Refuges

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION:  Notice of availability of the Final Comprehensive Conservation 
Plans and Findings of No Significant Impact for Chickasaw National 
Wildlife Refuge in Lauderdale County, Tennessee; Hatchie National 
Wildlife Refuge in Haywood County, Tennessee; Lower Hatchie Nainotal 
Wildlife Refuge in Lauderdale and Tipton Counties, Tennessee; and 
Reelfoot and Lake Isom National Wildlife Refuges in Obion and Lake 
Counties, Tennessee, and Fulton County, Kentucky.


SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service announces that Final 
Comprehensive Conservation Plans and Findings of No Significant Impact 
for the above referenced refuges are available for distribution. The 
plans were prepared pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act of 1997, and in accordance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and describe how the refuges will be 
managed over the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: Copies of these plans may be obtained by writing to: Randy 
Cook, West Tennessee Refuges, 301 N. Church, Room 201, Dyersburg, 
Tennessee 38024; Telephone 731/287-0650. The plans may also be accessed 
and downloaded from the Service's Internet Web site http://southeast.fws.gov/planning/

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The availability of the draft comprehensive 
conservation plans and environmental assessments for a 45-day review 
period was announced in the Federal Register on January 4, 2006 (71 FR 
353). The Service evaluated four alternatives for managing the refuges 
and selected Alternative D as the preferred alternative. This 
alternative was developed based on public input and the best 
professional judgment of the planning team. Under Alternative D, refuge 
lands will be more intensely managed than at present to provide high-
quality habitat for wildlife, which will work toward fulfilling the 
habitat objectives outlined in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley 
Migratory Bird Initiative, and will include significant benefits for 
waterfowl, shorebirds, and neotropical migratory birds. This 
alternative will significantly benefit wetland-dependent migratory bird 
species by increasing and enhancing breeding, wintering, and migration 
habitats. This alternative contributes directly to the objectives of 
the Lower Mississippi Joint Venture of the North American Waterfowl 
Management Plan, the partners in Flight--Mississippi Alluvial Valley 
Habitat Conservation Plan, the United States Shorebird Conservation 
Plan, West Tennessee Wildlife Resources Conservation Plan, and the 
North American Woodcock Plan. It provides integrated migratory bird 
management objectives in a landscape-level, biologically driven 
framework, which includes creating and maintaining additional moist-
soil units and restoring bottomland hardwood forest habitats.
    Fisheries management will be emphasized and, where appropriate, 
restored for native diversity within the floodplain. Refuge habitats 
will be managed and restored for natural diversity in support of 
national and regional plans. Forest management will address the need to 
restore and enhance the red oak component for migratory waterfowl and 
develop vertical structure to provide habitat for a diversity of 
species, particularly priority migratory birds. Any future 
reforestation efforts will incorporate greater native tree species 
    This alternative will encourage more public recreational and 
educational uses, where feasible, while intensifying

[[Page 35446]]

current habitat management. Hunting and fishing will continue with 
greater emphasis on increasing opportunities and enhancing the quality 
of the experience, including those for youth and disabled hunters/
anglers. Education and interpretation will be promoted while providing 
programs and partnerships with local schools. Wildlife observation and 
photography opportunities will be expanded. Information guides and 
signage that highlight management programs, as well as unique wildlife 
habitats, will also be developed. Efforts will be undertaken to improve 
road maintenance in order to provide better visitor access.
    The Service intends to construct a visitor center and headquarters 
office on Reelfoot, Chicksaw, and Lower Hatchie Refuges, with space for 
interpretation, environmental education, and staff.
    Research studies will continue to be fostered and partnerships 
developed with other agencies and universities, with the refuges 
providing needed resources and study sites. Research will also provide 
benefits to conservation efforts throughout the Lower Mississippi River 
Valley to conserve, enhance, restore, and manage bottomland hardwood 
habitat. Inventorying and monitoring of birds, freshwater mussels, 
reptiles, and amphibians will be continued and expanded in order to 
assess population trends, correlate with environmental pressures, and 
provide baseline data to be used in development of appropriate 
management strategies. Providing additional staff (e.g., wildlife 
biologist, outdoor recreation planner, maintenance workers, and an 
additional full-time law enforcement officer) will enable the Service 
to fully develop and manage fish and wildlife resources and habitats, 
provide opportunities and facilities for wildlife observation and 
photography, provide environmental educational programs that promote a 
greater understanding of natural resources, and protect natural and 
cultural resources.
    Under this alternative, the refuges will continue to acquire lands 
within the present acquisition boundaries for the use of compatible 
wildlife-dependent public recreation and environmental education 
opportunities. Tracts that provide better-quality habitat and 
connectivity to existing refuge lands will receive higher priority for 
acquisition. The refuges will also use other important acquisition 
tools, including partnerships with conservation organizations, 
conservation easements with adjacent landowners, and leases/cooperative 
    Public comments were requested, considered, and incorporated 
throughout the planning process in numerous ways. Pubic outreach 
included open houses, public meetings, technical workgroups, planning 
update mailings, and Federal Register notices. During the draft 
comprehensive conservation plan/environmental assessment comment period 
for each refuge, the Service received several comments, which were 
incorporated, when appropriate, and responded to in the final 
comprehensive conservation plan.

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

    Dated: April 4, 2006.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 06-5534 Filed 6-19-06; 8:45 am]