[Federal Register: July 23, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 142)]
[Page 42822-42824]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2008-N0132; 40136-1265-0000-S3]

Red River National Wildlife Refuge, Caddo, Bossier, DeSoto, 
Natchitoches, and Red River Parishes, LA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

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


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of our final comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and 
finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for Red River National 
Wildlife Refuge (NWR). In the final CCP, we describe how we will manage 
this refuge for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: A copy of the CCP may be obtained by writing to: Red River 
NWR, 11372 Highway 143, Farmerville, LA 71241. The plan may also be 
accessed and downloaded from the Service's Web site: http://

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. George Chandler, Refuge Manager, 
North Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex; Telephone: 318/726-
4222; fax: 318/726-4667; e-mail: george_chandler@fws.gov.



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Red River NWR. We 
started this process through a notice in the

[[Page 42823]]

Federal Register on March 13, 2006 (71 FR 12710). For more about the 
process, see that notice.
    On October 13, 2000, House Resolution 4318, the Red River National 
Wildlife Refuge Act, was signed into law (Pub. L. 106-300). This 
legislation authorized the establishment of the Red River NWR to 
provide for the restoration and conservation of fish and wildlife 
habitats in the Red River Valley ecosystem in northwest Louisiana. Red 
River NWR is a unit of the North Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge 
Complex, which also includes D'Arbonne, Upper Ouachita, Black Bayou 
Lake, and Handy Brake Refuges, as well as the Louisiana Wetlands 
Management District. Each refuge has its own unique issues, requiring 
separate planning efforts and public involvement.
    The Red River NWR, stretching 120 miles along the Red River Valley 
from Colfax, Louisiana, near its southern boundary to the Arkansas 
state line, will play an important role regionally in fulfilling the 
goals of the National Wildlife Refuge System. According to legislation, 
the refuge shall consist of up to 50,000 acres from the Headquarters 
Unit and four focus units within a selection area covering 220,000 
acres. Currently, the Service has acquired 9,788 acres and has 40,212 
acres remaining to purchase. The lands within the five units (e.g., 
Headquarters, Wardview, Spanish Lake Lowlands, Bayou Pierre, and Lower 
Cane River focus areas) will be acquired through a combination of fee 
title purchases from willing sellers and through conservation 
easements, leases, and/or cooperative agreements from willing 
landowners. Currently, fee title lands have been purchased within 
portions of all the focus units except Wardview. Red River NWR's 
proximity to a major metropolitan center will afford the public the 
ability to participate in educational opportunities that promote 
wildlife stewardship.
    Currently, the five units of the refuge include 3,742 acres of 
reforested bottomland hardwood forest; 317 acres of bottomland forest; 
261 acres of riparian habitat; 194 acres of cypress swamp; 600 acres of 
moist soils; 1,125 acres of agricultural fields; 124 acres in a pecan 
orchard; 64 acres dominated by groundsel-tree (Baccharis halimifolia); 
217 acres of honey locust; and 153 acres of old field that was grazed 
and is currently invaded by wild plum and invasive species. In 
addition, about 443 acres of the refuge consist of oxbow lakes, Red 
River tributaries, borrow pits, and irrigation ditches. Currently, 
minimal public use occurs on the refuge besides hunting, fishing, and 
some wildlife observation.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the final CCP and 
FONSI for Red River NWR in accordance with the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) (40 CFR 1506.6(b)) requirements. We completed a 
thorough analysis of impacts on the human environment, which we 
included in the draft comprehensive conservation plan and environmental 
assessment (Draft CCP/EA).
    The CCP will guide us in managing and administering Red River NWR 
for the next 15 years. Alternative C, as we described in the final CCP, 
is the foundation for the CCP.
    The compatibility determinations for (1) wildlife observation and 
photography; (2) environmental education and interpretation; (3) big 
game hunting; (4) small game hunting; (5) migratory bird hunting; (6) 
fishing; (7) hiking, jogging, and walking; (8) boating; (9) all-terrain 
vehicles; (10) berry/fruit picking; (11) bicycling; and (12) 
cooperative farming are also available within the final CCP.


    The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Improvement Act), which amended the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, requires us to 
develop a CCP for each national wildlife refuge. The purpose for 
developing a CCP is to provide refuge managers with a 15-year plan for 
achieving refuge purposes and contributing toward the mission of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System, consistent with sound principles of 
fish and wildlife management, conservation, legal mandates, and our 
policies. In addition to outlining broad management direction on 
conserving wildlife and their habitats, CCPs identify wildlife-
dependent recreational opportunities available to the public, including 
opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation. We will 
review and update the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with 
the Improvement Act.


    Approximately 150 copies of the Draft CCP/EA were made available 
for a 30-day public review period as announced in the Federal Register 
on April 14, 2008 (73 FR 20059). Five written comments were received 
from local citizens and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and 

Selected Alternative

    After considering the comments we received, we have selected 
Alternative C for implementation. The primary focus under Alternative C 
will be to optimize the biological and visitor use programs. Land 
acquisition, reforestation, and resource protection at Red River NWR 
will be intensified from the level now maintained under the No Action 
Alternative. The refuge will expand the approved acquisition boundary 
to incorporate 1,413 acres in the Spanish Lake Lowlands Unit; 87 acres 
in the Headquarters Unit; and 1,938 acres in the Lower Cane Unit. 
Alternative C will provide a full-time law enforcement officer, an 
equipment operator, a maintenance worker, a wildlife biologist, an 
assistant manager, an administrative assistant, and an outdoor 
recreational specialist. Public use and environmental education will 
increase. Within three years of the date of the CCP, the refuge will 
develop a Visitor Services' Plan to be used in expanding public use 
facilities and opportunities. This step-down management plan will 
provide overall, long-term guidance and direction in developing and 
running a larger public use program. Federal funds are now available to 
construct a refuge headquarters/visitor center at the Headquarters 
Unit. The new visitor center will include a small auditorium for use in 
talks, meetings, films, videos, and other audiovisual presentations. 
Alternative C will also increase opportunities for visitors by adding 
facilities such as photo blinds, observation sites, and trails.
    Within five years of the date of the CCP, we will prepare a Fishing 
Plan that will outline and expand permissible fishing opportunities 
within the refuge. The refuge will also construct a fishing pier at the 
Headquarters Unit. Staff will investigate opportunities for expanding 
hunting possibilities.
    Alternative C is considered to be the most effective for meeting 
the purposes of the refuge by conserving, restoring, and managing the 
refuge's habitats and wildlife, while optimizing wildlife-dependent 
public uses. Alternative C will best achieve national, ecosystem, and 
refuge-specific goals and objectives and it positively addresses 
significant issues and concerns expressed by the public.

    Authority: This notice is published under the authority of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, Public Law 

[[Page 42824]]

    Dated: May 27, 2008.
Jon Andrew,
Acting Regional Director.
 [FR Doc. E8-16822 Filed 7-22-08; 8:45 am]