[Federal Register: August 1, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 147)]
[Page 42103-42104]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Laramie Plains National Wildlife Refuges, Wyoming

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Availability; Request for Comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service, We) announces 
that the draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental 
Assessment (EA) for the Laramie Plains national wildlife refuges is 
available. The Laramie Plains national wildlife refuges include 
Bamforth National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Hutton Lake NWR, and Mortenson 
Lake NWR. This draft CCP/EA describes how the Service intends to manage 
these refuges for the next 15 years. We request public comment.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
on the draft CCP/EA by August 31, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Please provide written comments to Toni Griffin, Planning 
Team Leader, Division of Refuge Planning, Branch of Comprehensive 
Conservation Planning, Mountain-Prairie Region, P.O. Box 25486, Denver 
Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225-0486; via facsimile at 303-236-
4792; or electronically to toni_griffin@fws.gov. A copy of the CCP/EA 
may be obtained by writing to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division 
of Refuge Planning, 134 Union Boulevard, Suite 300, Lakewood, Colorado 
80228; or by download from http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/planning.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Toni Griffin, 303-236-4378 or John 
Esperance, 303-236-4369.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Laramie Plains national wildlife refuges 
include Bamforth National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Hutton Lake NWR, and 
Mortenson Lake NWR and are managed by Service staff headquartered at 
the Arapaho NWR near Walden, Colorado. All three refuges are located 
within 15 miles of the town of Laramie, Wyoming.
    The town of Laramie, Wyoming is positioned in a high plains basin 
ecosystem known as the Laramie Plains basin. Shallow depressions of the 
basin, within the relatively flat topography of the region, support 
wetland complexes that are unique to the area. These wetland complexes 
provide resting, nesting, and breeding areas for migratory birds in the 
semi-arid environment.
    Bamforth NWR was established on January 29, 1932, by Executive 
Order 9321. Consisting of 1,166 acres, the refuge is located 
approximately 6 miles northwest of Laramie, Wyoming. The purpose of the 
refuge is to provide ``a refuge and breeding ground for birds and wild 
animals.'' The refuge is closed to public use.
    Hutton Lake NWR was established on January 28, 1932, by Executive 
Order 5782. Consisting of 1,928 acres, the refuge is located 
approximately 10 miles southwest of Laramie, Wyoming. The purpose of 
the refuge is to provide ``a refuge and breeding ground for birds and 
wild animals.'' Current public use opportunities at the refuge include 
wildlife observation, wildlife photography, environmental education, 
and interpretation.
    Mortenson Lake NWR was established in 1993 under the Endangered 
Species Act, to protect the Wyoming toad's last known population. The 
Wyoming toad was listed as an endangered species in 1984. The 
population at Mortenson Lake was found in 1987. The purpose of the 
refuge is ``to conserve fish or wildlife which are listed as endangered 
or threatened species.'' The refuge is closed to public use to prevent 
potential adverse impacts to the Wyoming toad.
    This draft CCP/EA identifies and evaluates three alternatives for 
managing the refuges for the next 15 years. Alternative A, the No 
Action alternative, reflects the current management of the refuges. It 
provides the baseline against which to compare the other alternatives. 
Refuge habitats would continue to be managed on a minimal basis and 
opportunistic schedule that may maintain, or most likely would result 
in decline in, the diversity of vegetation and water quality and 
quantity in the wetlands. The Service would not develop any new 
management, research, restoration, education, or visitor services 
programs at the refuges. Refuge staff would continue to perform only 
limited research and no monitoring of refuge wildlife and habitats 
would occur. Public uses such as wildlife observation and wildlife 
photography would continue at present levels. Other priority public 
uses such as environmental education and interpretation would only be 
available on an informal basis. No new funding or staffing levels would 
occur and programs would continue to follow the same direction, 
emphasis, and intensity as they do at present.
    Alternative B is the Service's proposed action and basis for the 
draft CCP. Management activities under alternative B would be 
increased. Upland habitats would be evaluated and managed for the 
benefit of migratory bird species. Monitoring and management of 
invasive species on the refuges would be increased. With additional 
staffing, the Service would collect in-depth baseline data for wildlife 
and habitats. Efforts would be increased in the operations and 
maintenance of natural resources on the refuges and to maintain and 
develop partnerships that promote wildlife and habitat research and 
management. An emphasis on adaptive management, including monitoring 
the effects of habitat management practices and use of the research 
results to direct ongoing management, would be a priority.
    Under alternative C, refuge staff would rely on partnerships to 
achieve refuge goals and objectives. Refuge management activities would 
be increased and enhanced through the use of partnerships. Refuge staff 
would strive to accomplish refuge work through partnerships with 
others. An emphasis on adaptive management, including monitoring the 
effects of habitat management practices and use of the research results 
to direct ongoing management, would be a priority.
    The proposed action (Alternative B) was selected because it best 
meets the purposes and goals of the refuges, as well as the mission and 
goals of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The proposed action will 
also benefit federally listed species, shore birds, migrating and 
nesting waterfowl, neotropical migrants and resident wildlife. 
Environmental education and partnerships will result in improved 
wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities. Cultural and historical

[[Page 42104]]

resources as well as federally listed species will be protected.
    Opportunity for public input will be provided at a public meeting 
to be scheduled soon. The specific date and time for the public meeting 
is yet to be determined, but will be announced via local media and a 
planning update. All information provided voluntarily by mail, by 
phone, or at public meetings (e.g., names, addresses, letters of 
comment, input recorded during meetings) becomes part of the official 
public record. If requested under the Freedom of Information Act by a 
private citizen or organization, the Service may provide copies of such 
information. The environmental review of this project will be conducted 
in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); NEPA 
Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508); other appropriate Federal laws 
and regulations; Executive Order 12996; the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Improvement Act of 1997; and Service policies and procedures for 
compliance with those laws and regulations.

    Dated: June 20, 2007.
James J. Slack,
Deputy Regional Director, Denver, Colorado.
[FR Doc. E7-14892 Filed 7-31-07; 8:45 am]