[Federal Register: January 22, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 13)]
[Page 2709-2710]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent: re-initiate preparation of a comprehensive 
conservation plan and environmental assessment.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service, we, our) 
announces that we are re-initiating the preparation of a Comprehensive 
Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental Assessment (EA) for Eastern 
Neck National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Our original notice of intent to 
prepare a CCP was published in the Federal Register on June 11, 2002. 
At that time, we also held public scoping meetings. In June 2003, we 
announced through a special mailing that we were postponing work on the 
project due to a change in budget and staffing priorities.
    We are preparing a CCP and EA pursuant to the National Wildlife 

[[Page 2710]]

System Administration Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, and the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969. This notice advises other Federal and State 
agencies and the public of our intent to complete detailed planning on 
this refuge and to obtain suggestions and information to include in the 
environmental document. Special mailings, newspaper articles, media 
announcements, and our Web site will provide information about future 
opportunities for public involvement in the planning process.

DATES: We hosted a public information session and open house on January 
17, 2007 at the American Legion Hall, 21423 Sharp Street, Rock Hall, 
Maryland. We announced this session at least 2 weeks in advance in 
special mailings, through local newspaper notices, on our Web site, and 
by personal contacts. Additional public information sessions in the 
local community are available upon request.

ADDRESSES: Eastern Neck NWR, 1730 Eastern Neck Road, Rock Hall, 
Maryland 21661, at 410-639-7056 (telephone); 410-639-2516 (FAX); http://www.fws.gov/northeast/easternneck
 (Web site).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nancy McGarigal, Refuge Planner, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, 
Massachusetts 01035; 413-253-8562 (telephone); 413-253-8468 (FAX); 
northeastplanning@fws.gov (e-mail), noting Eastern Neck NWR in the 

subject title.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under 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-668ee), we manage all 
lands in the National Wildlife Refuge System in accordance with an 
approved CCP. The plan guides management decisions and identifies 
refuge goals, management objectives, and strategies for achieving 
refuge purposes over a 15-year period.
    The planning process covers many elements, including wildlife and 
habitat management, visitor and recreational activities, special areas 
management, cultural resource protection, and facilities and 
infrastructure. We will determine which existing or proposed uses of 
the refuge are appropriate and compatible. We will also conduct a 
wilderness review and a wild and scenic rivers evaluation to determine 
whether any areas on the refuge qualify for those Federal designations.
    We encourage public input during the planning process. The comments 
we receive, including those submitted during initial public scoping in 
2002, will help identify key issues and refine our goals and objectives 
for managing refuge resources and visitors. Additional opportunities 
for public participation will arise throughout the planning process, 
which we expect to complete in 2008. We are presently summarizing 
refuge data and consulting resource experts to provide us a scientific 
basis for our management decisions. We will prepare the EA in 
accordance with the Council on Environmental Quality procedures for 
implementing the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 
    The 2,285-acre Eastern Neck NWR is an island that lies at the 
confluence of the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay in Kent County, 
Maryland. The refuge headquarters is located approximately 5 miles 
south of the town of Rock Hall. Habitats on the refuge are highly 
diverse and include woodland, grassland, open water, tidal marsh, and 
cropland. The refuge was established in 1962 to protect migratory birds 
and is regionally recognized as a major feeding and resting place for a 
wide variety of migrating and wintering waterfowl. Huge rafts of ruddy 
ducks, canvasbacks, and scaup are commonly observed during winter, as 
are thousands of Atlantic Canada geese and black ducks in the refuge 
fields and waters. Of particular note are the wintering tundra swans 
that use adjacent shallow waters. Federally listed and rare species 
occur on the refuge, including a small population of the endangered 
Delmarva fox squirrel, the threatened southern bald eagle, and over 60 
migratory birds of conservation concern.
    The refuge is also distinguished as a land-use demonstration site 
within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Our agriculture program in support 
of wildlife habitat, our wetland restoration projects, native 
landscaping practices, and our renewable energy demonstration projects, 
serve as models for other landowners.
    We estimate 54,000 refuge visitors annually engage in hunting, 
fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental 
education and interpretation programs. We maintain self-guided 
interpretive trails, fishing and observation platforms, and photography 
blinds to facilitate these activities. We also welcome a variety of 
school and youth groups throughout the year for educational and 
interpretive programs focused on the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, its 
migratory birds, and other natural resources.

    Dated: December 21, 2006.
Richard O. Bennett,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hadley, 
 [FR Doc. E7-769 Filed 1-19-07; 8:45 am]