[Federal Register: June 26, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 124)]
[Page 36350-36352]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R6-R-2008-N0122; 60138-1265-6CCP-S3]

Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan for Sullys Hill National 
Game Preserve, Fort Totten, ND

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announce that 
our Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental 
Assessment (EA) for Sullys Hill National Game Preserve is available. 
This Draft CCP/EA describes how the Service intends to manage this 
refuge for the next 15 years.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
on the draft CCP/EA by July 28, 2008.

[[Page 36351]]

ADDRESSES: Please provide written comments to Laura King, Planning Team 
Leader, c/o Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge, 9756 143\1/2\ Ave., SE., 
Cayuga, North Dakota 58013 or via facsimile at (701) 724-3683; or 
electronically to laura_king@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: Laura King, (701) 724-3596 (phone); 
701-724-3683 (fax); or laura_king@fws.gov (e-mail).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Sullys Hill National Game Preserve, 
established in 1904, is a 1,675-acre National Wildlife Refuge sitting 
on the south shores of Devils Lake, about 10 miles south of the city of 
Devils Lake, North Dakota. This Refuge supports a unique community of 
habitats such as an oak, ash, basswood and aspen woodland, mixed 
grassed prairie, and some natural wetlands. These diverse habitats 
provide ``edge'' habitat for over 250 species of migratory birds, 
plains bison, Rocky Mountain elk, white-tailed deer, turkeys, and 
prairie dogs.
    The Refuge is one of only 19 designated natural areas in North 
Dakota, of which only four are National Wildlife Refuges. It is also 
one of only four Refuges nationally established for bison conservation.
    Sullys Hill National Game Preserve has over 60,000 visitors 
annually. The Refuge is becoming a progressive regional conservation 
learning center, promoting the conservation role of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System while educating visitors about the functions and 
benefits of prairie wetlands and grasslands. Per its legislative 
purpose, there is no hunting permitted on this Refuge.
    This draft CCP/EA identifies and evaluates three alternatives for 
managing the refuge for the next 15 years. Under Alternative A, 
funding, staff levels, and management activities at the Refuge would 
not change. Ungulates would be maintained at historic levels (25-35 
bison, 20-30 elk and 30-50 white-tailed deer). Season-long grazing with 
infrequent prescribed fire would continue, limiting forest regeneration 
and resulting in continued decline of native prairie. Available habitat 
for forest interior breeding birds would be limited. Herd health 
history would continue to be collected and shared with applicable State 
and Federal agencies. The environmental education and interpretation 
program would continue to take requests to participate in various 
teacher and/or Service staff-led on-site conservation programs. Visitor 
use would be limited to the seasonal auto tour route, nature trails, 
and visitor center depending primarily on volunteer availability. 
Cultural resource evaluations would be done to fulfill compliance with 
historic preservation laws. Only one staff person would be assigned to 
this Refuge.
    Under Alternative B, habitat management would begin to address 
reduced forest regeneration by managing the uncontrolled browsing of 
bison, elk, and white-tailed deer within the big game forests. 
Ungulates would be maintained, as per the Fenced Animal Management Plan 
(25-40 bison; 15-25 elk; 10-30 white-tailed deer). The refuge would 
establish woodland restoration units, totalling 80 acres, using various 
management tools including exclusion fences. Chemical, biological and 
mechanical techniques (such as prescribed fire) would be used to 
enhance habitats for the benefit of grassland and forest interior 
breeding birds. Fuels treatment (including prescribed fire or other 
mechanical means) would be used to reduce hazardous fuels, minimizing 
the threat to life and property. Invasive species would be treated and 
areas restored. Visitors would be provided seasonal opportunities to 
view wildlife and learn about the Refuge. There would be an increase in 
on-site educational programs for adults and children. These and other 
special events would be designed to garner support and appreciation for 
the Refuge, North Dakota's wetland and grassland resources, and the 
conservation role of the Refuge System. The Refuges limited fishery 
would be used for educational programs only. There would be an 
increased law enforcement presence, particularly during peak visitor-
use days. Cultural resource surveys would be completed in high 
probability areas. Two full time and one career seasonal staff would be 
added to address visitor services, biological, law enforcement, and 
maintenance needs.
    Under Alternative C, the Proposed Action, habitat management would 
address enhancing and restoring native prairie and promoting forest 
regeneration. Ungulate populations would be maintained at lower levels 
(<=20 bison, <=18 elk, and <=18 white-tailed deer) to control the 
overgrazing and overbrowsing that has impacted Refuge habitats. 
Management tools, including exclusion fences and other appropriate 
methods such as chemical, biological, and mechanical techniques 
(including prescribed fire) will be used to restore and enhance habitat 
for the benefit of forest interior breeding and grassland nesting 
birds. Selected hay land acres would be restored to native prairie. 
Fuels treatment (including prescribed fire or other mechanical means) 
would be used to reduce hazardous fuels, minimizing the threat to life 
and property. Invasive species would be treated and areas restored. The 
ungulate herd health program would take a more active disease 
surveillance and treatment approach, including timely introduction of 
ungulates to maintain genetic health, particularly for the Refuges 
plains bison.
    There would be an increase in delivery of both on-site and off-site 
programming of youth environmental education programs. In cooperation 
with local teachers, a formal wetland and grassland conservation 
curriculum would be designed for targeted grade levels and meet local 
and State standards. Emphasis would be placed on developing education 
partnerships with Spirit Lake Nation schools and agencies. The Refuges 
limited fishery would be used for educational programs only. Visitor, 
facility, and wildlife safety would be improved through regular routine 
patrols during peak and off-peak public use. A comprehensive cultural 
resource survey of the Refuge would be completed in partnership with 
other agencies and organizations. Four full-time staff would be 
recruited to expand, develop, and conduct biological, visitor services, 
law enforcement, and maintenance programs.
    All public comment information provided voluntarily by mail, by 
phone, or at meetings (for example, 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.

[[Page 36352]]

    Dated: May 27, 2008.
James J. Slack,
Deputy Regional Director.
[FR Doc. E8-14483 Filed 6-25-08; 8:45 am]