[Federal Register: January 27, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 18)]
[Page 4608-4609]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Finding of No 
Significant Impact for the Steigerwald Lake, Franz Lake, and Pierce 
National Wildlife Refuges, Located in Clark County and Skamania County, 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, DOI.

ACTION: Notice of decision and availability of the Finding of No 
Significant Impact and Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (Service) has prepared a Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan 
(Final CCP) and related Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for 
the Steigerwald Lake, Franz Lake, and Pierce National Wildlife Refuges 
(Gorge Refuges). The Gorge Refuges are located in southwest Washington 
within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The Final CCP was 
prepared pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration 
Act, as amended, and in accordance with the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and its implementing regulations. The 
Service's Regional Director for the Pacific Region has considered a 
reasonable range of management alternatives and has selected 
Alternative B of the CCP for managing the Gorge Refuges for the next 15 

DATES: The Final CCP and FONSI are available now. The FONSI was signed 
on August 26, 2005. Implementation of the Final CCP may begin 

ADDRESSES: Printed copies of the Final CCP are available for viewing at 
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex Headquarters, 301 N. Third 
Avenue, Ridgefield, WA. These documents and other project information 
are also available online for viewing and downloading at http://pacific.fws.gov/planning.
 Copies of the Final CCP may be obtained by 

writing to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex, P.O. Box 
457, Ridgefield, WA 98642.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Project Leader, Ridgefield National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex, P.O. Box 457, Ridgefield, WA 98642, phone 
(360) 887-4106.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Gorge Refuges are located in Skamania 
and Clark Counties, Washington, in the Columbia River Gorge downstream 
of Bonneville Dam. The administration center for these Refuges is the 
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex, located 25 miles northwest 
of Steigerwald Lake Refuge. Planning for the Gorge Refuges occurred 
simultaneously because: the Refuges are located in close proximity to 
one another within the Columbia River floodplain; many of the same 
issues and management opportunities occur at all three Refuges; and 
they are all part of the lower Columbia River ecosystem.
    The Gorge Refuges are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System 
(NWRS) administered by the Service. It is Service policy to have all 
lands within the NWRS managed in accordance with an approved CCP. The 
CCP guides management decisions and identifies refuge goals, long-range 
objectives, and strategies for achieving refuge purposes. During the 
planning process for the Gorge Refuges' CCP, many elements were 
considered, including habitat and wildlife

[[Page 4609]]

management, habitat protection and acquisition, public and recreational 
uses, and cultural resources. Public input during this planning process 
was considered in the development of the CCP. The notice of 
availability of the Draft CCP for a 30-day public review and comment 
period was published in the Federal Register on August 20, 2004 (69 FR 
51706). The Draft CCP identified and evaluated three alternatives for 
managing the Refuges. The Service received 18 comment letters on the 
Draft CCP. The comments received were incorporated, when appropriate, 
and responded to in the Final CCP.
    With the management program described in detail in the Final CCP, 
the Service will focus on restoring and maintaining biological 
diversity with particular emphasis on the conservation targets 
identified in the Final CCP. The Service will continue management of 
existing wetlands and restore and enhance emergent wetlands on the 
Gorge Refuges to increase native moist soil plant composition. 
Approximately 191 acres of managed grasslands will be maintained to 
support populations of wintering Canada geese. Riparian bottomland 
forests, riparian scrub-shrub, and native oak communities will be 
expanded and restored to support conservation targets. Inventory, 
monitoring, and research will increase on the Gorge Refuges. Working 
with partners, the Service will seek to remove barriers to fish passage 
within Gibbons Creek, Indian Mary Creek, and Hardy Creek watersheds. 
The Service will participate in ongoing efforts to clean up Gibbons 
Creek and prevent contaminants from entering Steigerwald Lake Refuge. 
The Service will work with partners to secure additional wetland 
habitat and develop a waterfowl hunt program that is compatible and 
consistent with the establishing purpose and goals for Steigerwald Lake 
Refuge. Opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography and 
environmental education and interpretation will increase, and the 
Service will officially open the portion of the Columbia Dike Trail on 
Steigerwald Lake Refuge to bicycling, horseback riding, jogging, and 
leashed pets.
    The Service is furnishing this notice to advise other agencies and 
the public of the availability of the Final CCP, to provide information 
on the desired conditions for the Gorge Refuges, and to detail how the 
Service will implement management strategies. Based on the review and 
evaluation of the information contained in the environmental 
assessment, the Regional Director has determined that implementation of 
the Final CCP does not constitute a major Federal action that would 
significantly affect the quality of the human environment within the 
meaning of Section 102(2)(c) of the NEPA. Therefore, an Environmental 
Impact Statement will not be prepared. Future site-specific proposals 
discussed in the Final CCP will be addressed in separate planning 
efforts with full public involvement.

    Dated: January 20, 2006.
Cynthia U. Barry,
Acting Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon.
 [FR Doc. E6-1024 Filed 1-26-06; 8:45 am]