[Federal Register: January 29, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 18)]
[Page 4019-4020]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability for the McNary and Umatilla National 
Wildlife Refuges Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and 
Environmental Assessment and Notification of Public Open House Meetings

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and notification of public open house 


SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has completed a Draft 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment (Draft 
CCP/EA) for the McNary and Umatilla National Wildlife Refuges 
(Refuges). It is available for public review and comment. The Draft 
CCP/EA describes the Service's proposal for managing the Refuges for 
the next 15 years. Draft compatibility determinations for public uses 
are available for review with the Draft CCP/EA.

DATES: Public comments on the Draft CCP/EA are requested by February 
23, 2007 (see ADDRESSES for delivery options). Three public open house 
meetings will be held see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for details.

ADDRESSES: Address comments on the Draft CCP/EA to: Greg Hughes, 
Project Leader, Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 
3250 Port of Benton Blvd., Richland, WA 99352; fax (509) 375-0196; or 
e-mail FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov. Please use ``McNary/Umatilla CCP'' 
in the subject. Additional information concerning the Refuges can be 
found on the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/midcolumbiariver/. Comments 

may also be submitted at the public open house meetings see 

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Draft CCP/EA 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/EA on compact diskette are available upon request from the 
Refuge Complex at phone number (509) 371-9212. Copies of the Draft CCP/
EA may be reviewed at the Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge 
Complex, 3250 Port of Benton Blvd., Richland, WA. The Draft CCP/EA is 
also available for viewing and downloading on the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/midcolumbiariver/.
 Printed copies will be available for 

review at the following libraries.
    1. Richland Public Library, 955 Northgate Drive, Richland, WA.
    2. Hermiston Public Library, 235 E. Gladys Avenue, Hermiston, OR.
    3. Walla Walla Public Library, 238 E. Alder St., Walla Walla, WA.
    4. Umatilla Public Library, 911 7th St., Umatilla, OR.
    Habitat management activities proposed in the Draft CCP/EA include 
improving the conditions of wetland, riparian, mudflat, and shrub-
steppe habitats, with emphasis on reducing invasive species; increasing 
moist soil habitats beneficial for waterfowl, shorebirds, and other 
wetland associates; evaluating and, where feasible, enhancing backwater 
habitats for salmonids; and increasing the amount of grain available 
for ducks on the Refuges' agricultural lands.
    Public use management actions proposed in the Draft CCP/EA include 
expanding and improving trails, signs, and access areas for wildlife 
observation; improving the quality of upland bird hunting; implementing 
some minor trades between sanctuary and hunt areas; continuing 
waterfowl hunting coordination with the States; improving information 
available to anglers and boaters; expanding the Umatilla Refuge's 
environmental education program; improving management of horseback 
riding; eliminating overnight camping at McNary Refuge; and reducing 
illegal uses.


    Umatilla Refuge encompasses 26,888 acres with units along the 
Columbia River in both Washington and Oregon. McNary Refuge encompasses 
approximately 15,894 acres located 30 miles upstream of Umatilla 
Refuge, near Kennewick, Washington. Habitat types found on both Refuges 
include shrub-steppe uplands, croplands, woody riparian areas, basalt 
cliffs, emergent marshes, large marshes, and open water areas of the 
Columbia River. Several islands are also part of each Refuge. Both 
Refuges provide important migratory and wintering habitat for numerous 
bird species especially waterfowl.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose of the CCP is to provide reasonable, scientifically-
grounded guidance for improving the Refuges' shrub-steppe, riparian, 
wetland, and cliff-talus habitats for the long-term conservation of 
native plants and animals and migratory birds, while providing high 
quality public use programs for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation. The Draft 
CCP/EA identifies appropriate actions to protect and sustain the 
cultural and biological features of the river islands, the Refuges' 
wintering waterfowl populations and habitats, the migratory shorebird 
populations that use the Refuges, and threatened, endangered, or rare 


    The Service identified and evaluated four alternatives for managing 
the McNary and Umatilla Refuges for the next 15 years, including a No 
Action Alternative (Alternative 4). Brief descriptions of the 
alternatives follow.
    Alternative 1: Emphasize Migratory Waterfowl Management and 
Consumptive Public Uses. Under Alternative 1, the Refuges' management 
focus would be on providing migratory waterfowl with high quality, 
easily accessible food during both normal and severe winters. This 
would be accomplished by increasing both crop production and waterfowl 
food plants. Secure, adequately-sized resting areas would be provided 
to ensure the health of overwintering and migrating waterfowl. 
Consumptive public uses such as hunting and fishing would be 
emphasized, with improvements to facilities and increased 
opportunities. A State pheasant augmentation/release program would be 
discontinued, and camping would be discontinued at Madame Dorion Park. 
Other public uses would continue at approximately their current levels 
of service.
    Alternative 2: Emphasize Migratory Birds, Special Status Species 
and Wildlife-Dependent Public Uses. Under Alternative 2, the Service's 
preferred alternative, the Refuges would focus on managing habitat for 
all migratory birds, and enhancing populations of targeted special 
status species and their habitats. Habitats for migratory waterfowl, 
shorebirds, threatened and endangered species, and other native 
wildlife would be improved. Weed control and reduction, and improving 
riparian, shrub-steppe, island, and cliff habitats would be emphasized. 
Wildlife-dependent public uses would also be emphasized, with 
opportunities for

[[Page 4020]]

hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, interpretation, 
and environmental education maintained or improved from present 
conditions. A State pheasant augmentation/release program would be 
discontinued and camping at Madame Dorion Park would be discontinued. 
Disturbance to island resources would be reduced through implementation 
of a no-wake zone within 100 feet of Refuge islands. Alternative 2 is 
the Service's preferred alternative because it best achieves the 
purpose and need for the CCP while maintaining balance among the varied 
management needs and programs. Alternative 2 addresses issues and 
relevant mandates, and is consistent with principles of sound fish and 
wildlife management.
    Alternative 3: Emphasize Native Species Diversity and 
Nonconsumptive Public Uses. Under Alternative 3, the Refuges' 
management focus would be on mimicking natural processes, to maintain, 
enhance, and, where possible, increase native fish, wildlife, and plant 
diversity representative of historical conditions in the Lower Columbia 
River Basin. Emphasis would be placed on improving existing island, 
riverine, and shrub-steppe habitats and restoring modified and/or 
degraded habitats to a more native condition. Fewer acres would be 
managed in croplands. Habitat management would contribute to the 
recovery of threatened, endangered, or rare species such as salmon, 
steelhead, and long-billed curlews. Hunting and fishing opportunities 
would be available at most current sites except pheasant and fish 
stocking would be eliminated, and fewer acres would be managed to 
provide waterfowl food. Opportunities for wildlife-dependent 
nonconsumptive uses would be improved and expanded. Camping would be 
discontinued at Madame Dorion Park. All island areas would be closed to 
public access during summer.
    Alternative 4: No Action Alternative. Alternative 4 is the no 
action alternative as required under NEPA. It provides a baseline from 
which to compare Alternatives 1, 2, and 3. Under Alternative 4, the 
Refuges would continue to maintain, and, where feasible, restore 
habitat for waterfowl, migratory birds, and State and Federally-listed 
species. Existing public uses would continue.

Public Comments

    Public comments are requested, considered, and incorporated 
throughout the planning process. Comments on the Draft CCP/EA would be 
appreciated by February 23, 2007. A previous notice concerning 
development of this CCP/EA was published in the Federal Register on May 
24, 2004. Comments on the Draft CCP/EA will be analyzed by the Service 
and addressed in final planning documents. All comments received from 
individuals become part of the official public record and may be 
released. Requests for such comments will be handled in accordance with 
the Freedom of Information Act, NEPA regulations, and Service and 
Department of the Interior policies and procedures.

Public Open House Meetings

    Three Public Open House Meetings will be held to provide people an 
opportunity to learn more about the alternatives analyzed in the Draft 
CCP/EA. Public comments will be collected and recorded at the meetings. 
Meeting dates, times, and locations follow.
    1. February 1, 2007, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Riverfront Center, 2 Marine 
Drive, Boardman, Oregon.
    2. February 6, 2007, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., McNary Environmental 
Education Center, 311 Lake Road, Burbank, Washington.
    3. February 8, 2007, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Red Lion Hotel, 2525 North 
20th Ave., Pasco, Washington.

    Dated: January 24, 2007.
David J. Wesley,
Acting Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. E7-1395 Filed 1-26-07; 8:45 am]