[Federal Register: August 8, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 154)]
[Page 46324-46325]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R3-R-2008-N0186; 30136-1265-0000-S3]

Notice of Decision and Availability of the Record of Decision for 
the Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact 
Statement for Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge, Buffalo and 
Trempealeau Counties, WI

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of decision and availability of the record of decision.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the decision and 
availability of the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS) for Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in 
Wisconsin. A thorough analysis of the environmental, social, and 
economic considerations was completed and presented in the Final CCP/
EIS. The Final CCP/EIS was released to the public and a Notice of 
Availability was published in the Federal Register on April 15, 2008, 
(73 FR 20329). The ROD documents the selection of Alternative C, the 
Preferred Alternative in the Final CCP/EIS, as the CCP for Trempealeau 
National Wildlife Refuge. The ROD was signed by the Regional Director, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest Region, on June 17, 2008.

ADDRESSES: The ROD and Final CCP/EIS may be viewed at Trempealeau 
National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters. You may obtain a copy of the ROD 
at the planning website http://www.fws.gov/midwest/planning/Trempealeau 
or by writing to the following address: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Division of Conservation Planning, Bishop Henry Whipple Federal 
Building, 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, Minnesota 55111.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Vickie Hirschboeck, (608) 539-2311 
extension 12.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge CCP 
will provide management guidance for conservation of Refuge resources 
and public use activities during the next 15 years. Three alternatives 
and their consequences were described in detail in the Draft and Final 
Environmental Impact Statement. Under all alternatives threatened and 
endangered species will be protected; cultural resources will be 
protected; the Refuge's Fire Management Plan will guide prescribed

[[Page 46325]]

fire and wildfire suppression; mosquito control will only be allowed in 
cases of a documented human health emergency; appropriate control of 
fish and wildlife disease will be undertaken if warranted, feasible, 
and effective; an emergency response plan and training will be 
developed to address possible contaminant spills; regulations regarding 
harvesting of fruit, nuts, and other plant parts will be clarified; 
neighboring landowners will be contacted frequently to discuss issues 
of concern; an easement and rights-of-way management plan will be 
developed; and general public use regulations will be annually reviewed 
and updated.
    Alternative A. No Action. Present management practices would 
continue under this Alternative. The No Action alternative is a status 
quo alternative where current conditions and trends continue. The 
alternative served as the baseline to compare and contrast with the 
other alternatives.
    Alternative B. Wildlife and Habitat Focus. Under this alternative 
there would be minimal disturbance to wildlife from public use and 
increased level of effort on fish and wildlife habitat management. 
Habitat management would be a high priority. Invasive species control 
in the forested habitats would allow restoration of prairie and oak 
savanna. Prescribed fire and mowing would be used to manage 11 prairie 
units totaling 585 acres. Pine plantations would be eliminated. 
Additional dikes and water control structures would be placed within 
existing impoundments. The deer hunt and furbearer management would 
continue as in the past. Public use opportunities would be reduced. 
Environmental education programs would be limited to those that explain 
Refuge regulations. No waterfowl hunting would be allowed. To reduce 
disturbance to migrating birds, all pools would be closed to water 
craft during fall migration (from September 15 through November 15). 
The Refuge would maintain its present entrance road, which is open to 
all traffic except for an average of 6 weeks each year when the road is 
flooded. The Refuge office would remain as is, but the 70-year-old shop 
would be replaced. The staff would include the addition of a permanent 
full-time biologist and a private lands biologist and a seasonal 
biological technician and tractor operator.
    Alternative C. Integrated Public Use and Wildlife and Habitat Focus 
(Preferred Alternative). The Service has selected Alternative C, the 
Preferred Alternative, as the CCP for the Refuge. Implementation of the 
CCP will occur over the next 15 years and will depend on future 
staffing levels and funding.
    Under this alternative the focus will be on returning upland areas 
to pre-European settlement habitats, increasing flexibility in wetland 
management within impoundments, and increasing public use 
opportunities. Prairie and oak savanna restoration will be a high 
priority. Increased efforts to control invasive species will be made 
using biological, mechanical, and chemical methods. Prescribed fire and 
mowing will be used to manage 11 prairie units totaling 435 acres. Half 
of the trees in the pine plantations will be removed through selective 
thinning. Additional dikes and water control structures will be placed 
within existing impoundments. The deer hunt and furbearer management 
will continue as in the past. Public use opportunities will be 
expanded. Environmental education programs will be promoted at local 
schools and to community groups and the general public. Waterfowl 
hunting opportunities will be expanded by opening the area west of the 
Canadian National Railroad dike to a limited hunt. Ski trails will be 
maintained when conditions permit. Options to alleviate flooding of the 
entrance road to provide year-round access to the Refuge will be 
explored. Use of volunteers will be expanded in all programs. A 
Trempealeau NWR Friends Group will be started. A multi-purpose Room 
will be added to the office/visitor contact station to accommodate 
larger groups and provide a place for orientation. The staff will 
include the addition of three seasonal positions, including a 
biological technician, a tractor operator, and a park ranger. Law 
enforcement duties will be covered by a new position shared with the 
Winona District. A private lands biologist will also be shared with the 
Winona District.

Basis for the Decision

    Alternative C is the most environmentally preferable alternative. 
Chapter 1 of the Final EIS identified three broad needs: (1) Contribute 
to the Refuge System mission; (2) fulfill the purposes of the Refuge; 
and (3) achieve Refuge goals. Alternative C meets these needs through 
the most balanced and integrated approach compared to the other 
alternatives. The rationale for choosing the selected alternative as 
the best alternative for the Comprehensive Conservation Plan is based 
on the impact of this alternative on the issues and concerns that 
surfaced during the planning process. The environmental impacts of the 
alternatives were analyzed as to how they will impact: (1) Landscape; 
(2) wildlife and habitat; (3) public use; (4) neighboring landowners 
and community; and (5) administration and operations. Alternative C has 
long-term benefits to the natural and human environment. Alternative C 
will increase water quality and more effectively control invasive 
plants. This alternative will ensure abundant opportunity for all 
current recreational uses (e.g., hunting, fishing, observation and 
photography, interpretation and environmental education). It will have 
a positive economic impact and will increase the capacity of the Refuge 
to meet its purposes and mission of the Refuge System. Alternative C is 
also expected to lead to improved communication and problem solving 
with neighboring land owners.

    Dated: July 22, 2008.
Charles M. Wooley,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fort 
Snelling, Minnesota.
[FR Doc. E8-18296 Filed 8-7-08; 8:45 am]