[Federal Register: December 13, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 239)]
[Page 74929-74931]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of the Draft Comprehensive Conservation 
Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for the Hanford Reach National 
Monument and Notification of Public Meetings

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and notification of public meetings.


SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces that the 
Draft Hanford Reach National Monument (Monument) Comprehensive 
Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (Draft CCP/EIS) is 
available for review and comment. The Draft CCP/EIS describes the 
Service's proposal for managing the Monument for the next 15 years. 
Proposed changes to Monument management include: Opening additional 
acres to public use; implementing an upland and riparian habitat 
management program; developing and implementing cultural resource 
monitoring and management plans; establishing partnerships and 
community outreach programs to refine management of natural, cultural 
and recreational resources; establishing an environmental education 
program; and expanding interpretive, wildlife viewing, and wildlife 
photography facilities and programs. Draft compatibility determinations 
for several different public uses are also available for review with 
the Draft CCP/EIS.

DATES: Written comments must be received at the address below by

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February 23, 2007. Public meetings will be held in January and February 
of 2007, see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for more information.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the Draft CCP/EIS should be addressed to: Greg 
Hughes, Project Leader, Hanford Reach National Monument, 3250 Port of 
Benton Boulevard, Richland, Washington 99354. Comments may also be 
submitted: at the public meetings; via electronic mail to 
hanfordreach@fws.gov; or via the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/

hanfordreach/. Please use ``Hanford Reach CCP'' in the subject line for 
all electronic correspondence. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for 
information on how to view or obtain a copy of the Draft CCP/EIS and 
for the dates, times, and locations of the public meetings.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Greg Hughes, Project Leader, phone (509) 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Draft CCP/EIS was prepared pursuant to 
the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, as amended, and 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). Copies of the 
Draft CCP/EIS, on compact disk, may be obtained by contacting Greg 
Hughes, Hanford Reach National Monument, 3250 Port of Benton Boulevard, 
Richland, Washington 99354, telephone (509) 371-1801. The Draft CCP/EIS 
may be downloaded from hanfordreach.fws.gov/planning.html. Copies of 
the Draft CCP/EIS may be viewed at Hanford Reach National Monument (see 
ADDRESSES) and at the following libraries and reading rooms.
    1. Department of Energy Reading Room, Washington State University 
Tri-Cites Campus Library and Hanford Technical Library, Consolidated 
Information Center, 2770 University Drive, Richland, WA.
    2. Mid-Columbia Public Library, Benton City Branch, 708 9th Street, 
Benton City, WA.
    3. Kennewick Public Library, 1620 South Union, Kennewick, WA.
    4. Mattawa Community Library, 61 Government Way, Mattawa, WA.
    5. Othello Public Library, 101 East Main Street, Othello, WA.
    6. Pasco Public Library, 1320 West Hopkins Street, Pasco, WA.
    7. Richland Public Library, 955 Northgate Drive, Richland, WA.

Public Meetings

    Four public meetings will be held to obtain public comments on the 
Draft CCP/EIS. The dates, times, and locations of the public meetings 
    1. January 30, 2007, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Mattawa Elementary School 
Gym, 400 North Boundary Road, Mattawa, WA.
    2. January 31, 2007, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Sunnyside Community 
Center, 1521 South 1st Street, Sunnyside, WA.
    3. February 5, 2007, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Hampton Inn, 486 
Bradley Blvd., Richland, WA.
    4. February 8, 2007, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Red Lion Hotel, 2525 
North 20th Ave., Pasco, WA.


    The 195,777-acre Monument is located in south-central Washington 
near Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland (Tri-Cities), Washington. Monument 
lands lie on both sides of the Columbia River. The land comprising the 
Monument has an unusual and colorful provenance. The entry of the 
United States into World War II, and the race to develop an atomic 
bomb, led to the search for a suitable place to locate plutonium 
production and purification facilities. In 1943, the War Department 
went in search of a remote, easily defensible, and geologically stable 
site, with plenty of cool water, abundant energy (from hydropower dams 
on the Columbia River), and a moderate climate, on which to build 
plutonium production reactors. The area around the isolated desert 
towns of White Bluffs and Hanford was an ideal location.
    For more than 40 years, the primary mission at the Hanford Site was 
the production of nuclear materials for national defense. However, only 
a relatively small central core of the entire Hanford Site was needed 
for plutonium production; large tracts of land around this core were 
used as protective buffer zones for safety and security purposes and 
remained undisturbed. These buffer zones preserved a nationally 
significant biological and cultural resource setting in the Columbia 
Basin region.
    In the early 1970s, the need for large buffer zones around the 
Hanford central core declined, and the Department of Energy (DOE), now 
running the Hanford Site, began transferring the management of portions 
of the buffer zones to the Service and the Washington State Department 
of Fish and Wildlife, culminating with the 1997 transfer of the 
administration of the Fitzner-Eberhardt Arid Lands Ecology Reserve to 
the Service.
    In the 1980s, concerns for protection of the Hanford Site's natural 
and cultural resource values grew, as did interest in consolidating 
management under one natural resource agency. In 1988, Congress 
directed the Department of the Interior (DOI) to conduct a study of 
excess lands within the Hanford Site, with the intent to provide 
recommendations to Congress on the manner to best protect natural and 
cultural resource values. The resulting report by the National Park 
Service--the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River Comprehensive River 
Conservation Study--and DOE's Comprehensive Land Use Plan, identified 
the Service as best suited to protect those values, and the lands 
necessary to support them. After years of discussion and controversy, 
the question of protection was settled when President Clinton created 
the Monument in June 2000 (Proclamation 7319) under the American 
Antiquities Act.
    Within the Hanford Site, the Monument forms a large horseshoe-
shaped area around what is generally known as Central Hanford. The 
Monument, and Central Hanford, have been protected since 1943, and 
together, provide a haven for native plants, animals, and biological 
communities that were once more common in the surrounding landscape. 
Equally important is the portion of the Columbia River within the 
Hanford Site. It is unique within the post-dam Columbia River system in 
the United States, because the river is essentially free flowing 
through a segment of approximately 51 miles (46.5 miles are within the 
Monument). This segment, called the Hanford Reach, contains riparian 
habitat that is otherwise rare within the Columbia River system. It is 
because of this juxtaposition of increasingly rare habitats--the only 
nontidal, free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River remaining in the 
United States, and the largest remnant of the shrub-steppe ecosystem 
that dominated the Columbia Basin prior to European settlement--that 
the Monument was established.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose of the CCP is to provide a coherent, integrated set of 
management actions to help attain the Monument's vision, goals, and 
objectives. The CCP identifies the role the Monument should play in 
support of the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), 
explains the Service's management actions, and provides a basis for 
Monument funding requests.


    The Draft CCP/EIS identifies and evaluates six alternatives for 
managing the Monument for the next 15 years. All alternatives, except 
the No Action Alternative, open more acres of the Monument to public 
access, with Alternative B opening the least amount

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of acreage and Alternatives D and E opening the most. All alternatives 
meet the primary purposes of the Monument and the mission of the NWRS; 
therefore, each one has the potential to be selected for 
implementation. The draft Alternative E has been identified as the 
preferred alternative because it strikes a reasonable balance between 
resource protections and compatible, wildlife-dependent public use and 
access, while at the same time addressing relevant laws, policies, 
regulations, and other mandates, and locally identified significant 
    Alternative A, the No Action Alternative, is required by NEPA. It 
provides a baseline from which to compare the other alternatives. Under 
Alternative A, management practices already underway or funded would 
continue. Management would focus on protecting and enhancing biological 
and cultural resources, fire protection, fire rehabilitation, and 
maintenance of existing facilities. Land use designations that were in 
place at the time of Monument establishment would be maintained. Access 
for recreational, interpretive, and educational purposes would continue 
year-round in designated areas. The current primitive recreation 
opportunities would continue to be provided. The small environmental 
education program would continue, but could fluctuate without a stable 
staff base.
    Alternative B focuses on protecting, conserving, and restoring the 
resources described in the Monument Proclamation; thousands of acres of 
the Monument could see some level of restoration activity on an annual 
basis. Avoiding impacts to resources would be a priority. Access for 
recreational, interpretive, and educational purposes would be expanded 
over current levels and would continue year-round in designated areas. 
The current primitive recreation opportunities would continue, with 
some additional facilities provided. New facilities could include 
wildlife observation sites and the construction of new trails. The 
small environmental education program would be slightly expanded.
    Alternative C focuses on protecting and conserving the natural 
resources of the Monument by concentrating public use away from the 
Monument's interior to create and maintain large areas that are free of 
development, both for conservation purposes and to maintain natural 
landscapes and solitude opportunities. Visitors would be allowed access 
to significant portions of the Monument, but access points would be 
limited and concentrated in specific areas. Both primitive and 
developed recreation opportunities would be provided, although ease of 
access would be constrained. New facilities could include camping sites 
for float boaters, improved boat launches, wildlife observation sites, 
and the construction of new trails in greater abundance than 
Alternative B. Educational and interpretive opportunities would be 
substantially enhanced over current levels. Through economies of scale, 
and limiting large-scale development, more resources would be available 
for habitat restoration activities than under any alternative except 
Alternative B.
    Alternative D provides the highest level of public use and access, 
although protection of resources would still remain a priority. 
Alternative D would assume a greater acceptance of risk to natural and 
cultural resources through increased public use and access. Developed 
recreation opportunities and visitor facilities would be increased 
significantly from the current level, including the construction of 
campgrounds, boat launches, new access points, trails, and automobile 
tour routes. Educational and interpretive opportunities would be 
greatly expanded over current levels, and would be aimed at not just 
providing information about the Monument, but also protecting Monument 
resources. This increase in public amenities would likely mean a 
decrease in restoration activities, with a greater emphasis on 
protecting resources and habitats in their current conditions.
    Alternative E, the Preferred Alternative, was developed by the 
Hanford Reach Federal Advisory Committee (FAC) based on the initial 
range of actions under Alternatives A, B, C, and D. The FAC selected 
elements from each of the other alternatives to develop this 
alternative. Access points would be concentrated, much the same as 
Alternative C, although development most closely matches that of 
Alternative D. Recreation opportunities and visitor facilities would be 
increased substantially from the current level, although not to the 
level of Alternative D. New amenities would include the construction of 
camp sites for float boaters, boat launches, trails, and new access 
points. Educational and interpretive opportunities would be greatly 
expanded over current levels, although not to the level of Alternative 
D. This increase in public amenities would also likely mean a decrease 
in restoration activities, with a greater emphasis on protecting 
resources and habitats in the condition they currently exist.
    Alternative F was developed by the Confederated Tribes of the 
Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) by modifying Alternative B. 
Restoration, access, public use and other management actions closely 
resemble Alternative B. The primary difference between Alternatives B 
and F is that Alternative F controls and monitors all public use and 
access through a permit system for all open areas of the Monument. Some 
areas would also require user fees to help fund Monument programs.

Public Comments

    Public comments are requested, considered, and incorporated 
throughout the planning process. After the review and comment period 
ends for this Draft CCP/EIS, comments will be analyzed by the Service 
and addressed in revised planning documents. All comments received from 
individuals, including names and addresses, become part of the official 
public record and may be released. Requests for release of comments 
received from the public will be handled in accordance with the Freedom 
of Information Act, NEPA, and Service and DOI policies and procedures.

    Dated: December 7, 2006.
David J. Wesley,
Acting Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. E6-21261 Filed 12-12-06; 8:45 am]