[Federal Register: September 21, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 183)]
[Page 54056-54057]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, Swanton, Franklin County, VT

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: final comprehensive conservation plan 
and finding of no significant impact.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of the final Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and 
Finding of No Significant Impact for Missisquoi National Wildlife 
Refuge (NWR). Prepared in conformance with the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Administration Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd et seq.), and 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), 
the plan describes how we intend to manage the refuge over the next 15 

ADDRESSES: You may obtain copies of this CCP on compact disk or in 
print by writing to Missisquoi NWR, 29 Tabor Road, Swanton, Vermont, 
05488, telephone 802-868-4781. You may also access and download a copy 
from the Web sites http://library.fws.gov/ccps.htm or http://missisquoirefuge

Missisquoi NWR, at 802-868-4781, or by electronic mail at 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The National Wildlife Refuge System 
Administration Act of 1996, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668 dd et seq.), requires 
CCPs for all refuges to provide refuge managers with 15-year strategies 
for achieving refuge purposes and furthering the mission of the

[[Page 54057]]

National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). Developing CCPs is done 
according to the sound principles of fish and wildlife science and 
laws, while adhering to Service planning and related policies. In 
addition to outlining broad management direction on conserving refuge 
wildlife and habitat, CCPs identify wildlife-dependent recreational 
opportunities available to the public, including opportunities for 
hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation. We will review and update 
this CCP at least once every 15 years.
    Missisquoi NWR spans over 6,592 acres, lies on the eastern shore of 
Lake Champlain near the Canadian border in Franklin County, Vermont, 
and includes most of the Missisquoi River Delta, the largest wetland 
complex in the Lake Champlain Basin. As it flows through the refuge, 
the Missisquoi River is bordered by the largest and perhaps highest 
quality silver maple floodplain forest remaining in the State. The 
river meanders through extensive natural and managed emergent marshes 
of wild rice, buttonbush, and tussock sedge that host thousands of 
waterfowl during migration. That part of the river harbors rare 
freshwater mussels, spiny soft-shell turtles, and fish. Refuge lands 
protect the Shad Island great blue heron rookery, the largest colony in 
Vermont, and the entire nesting population of black terns in the State. 
The Service acquired most of the refuge under authority of the 
Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929 (16 U.S.C. 715-715r) for ``use 
as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purposes, for 
migratory birds'' and the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 
742f(a)(1)) for the development, advancement, management, conservation, 
and protection of fish and wildlife resources.
    We distributed a draft CCP/Environmental Assessment (EA) for public 
review and comment for 38 days between March 22 and April 30, 2007. Its 
distribution was announced in the Federal Register on March 16, 2007 
(Volume 72, Number 51, Pages 12632-12633). That draft analyzed two 
alternatives for managing the refuge. We also held one public meeting 
on March 31, 2007, to obtain public comments. We received 105 comments 
from local towns, conservation and recreational organizations, and 
local residents. Appendix L of the final CCP includes a summary of 
those comments and our responses to them.
    We selected Alternative B (the Service-proposed action) from the 
draft CCP/EA as the alternative for implementation. Our final CCP fully 
describes its details. Staff from Missisquoi NWR headquarters office in 
Swanton, Vermont, will continue to administer the refuge. Highlights of 
the final CCP include:
    (1) Greater inventory, monitoring, and management of the Missisquoi 
River Delta wetlands (floodplain forest, lakeshore and river shore 
wetlands, impoundments, rivers and creeks, bays, bogs, swamps, vernal 
pools, and scrub-shrub habitat) to maintain their ecological integrity 
for the rich diversity of plants and animals on the refuge.
    (2) Better management of high-quality grasslands, shrublands, and 
other early successional habitats for a range of wildlife species of 
conservation concern.
    (3) Enhanced programs of outreach and environmental education and 
interpretation to raise public awareness and involvement in the 
protection and stewardship of refuge wildlife and habitats.
    (4) Enhanced wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities 
(wildlife observation and photography, hunting, and fishing) that 
provide quality experiences for refuge visitors and protect wildlife 
and their habitats.
    (5) Greater inventory, protection, and interpretation of the rich 
cultural history of the Missisquoi River delta and enhanced 
partnerships with the local Abenaki Tribe and other interested 
    (6) Cooperative partnerships within the northern Lake Champlain 
Basin, including the Missisquoi River watershed, working toward better 
water quality, improved land stewardship, and greater protection of 
fish and wildlife resources.
    (7) A Geographical Information System (GIS) that contains current 
data on refuge biological resources that will more effectively and 
efficiently guide habitat and species management.
    (8) An inventory of aquatic and upland invasive species that track 
annual distribution and control methods, and management results of 
these nuisance species on the refuge and in Missisquoi Bay.
    (9) In partnership with others, the protection of additional lands 
and waters, particularly intact, fully functioning wetlands and 
associated riparian areas and lands that maintain and expand the 
protection of large, unfragmented blocks of upland habitat for area-
sensitive wildlife species.
    (10) In lieu of a fee, visitors will be encouraged to make 
voluntary contributions at collection boxes at the trailheads and boat 
launch sites. We will work with the Friends of Missisquoi NWR to 
develop a voluntary annual refuge pass to raise additional funds for 
trail maintenance, informational kiosks, educational programs, and 
other actions to benefit all visitors to the refuge.
    (11) A critical new law enforcement position to enhance staff and 
visitor safety, ensure compliance with regulations, and maintain 
communications with Homeland Security, given the refuge's proximity to 
the International border and active recreational community in the 
Missisquoi Bay and river.
    (12) Other new critical positions, including a park ranger, 
maintenance worker, and biological technician, to maximize the use and 
effectiveness of the new visitor center and associated interpretive 
trails, ensure safe, quality refuge experiences through well-maintained 
facilities, ensure our use of the best available science in conserving 
and managing the fish and wildlife resources and their habitats, and 
ensure that public uses are compatible with the ``wildlife first'' 
mission of the NWRS.

     Dated: September 14, 2007.
Thomas J. Healy,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hadley, 
 [FR Doc. E7-18542 Filed 9-20-07; 8:45 am]