[Federal Register: September 8, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 174)]
[Page 52063-52064]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-R-2008-N0173, 80230-1265-0000-S3]

San Luis and Merced National Wildlife Refuges and Grasslands 
Wildlife Management Area, Merced County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare a comprehensive conservation plan 
and environmental assessment; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to prepare 
a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental Assessment 
(EA) for San Luis and Merced National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) and the 
Grasslands Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located in Merced County, 
California. We provide this notice in compliance with our CCP policy to 
advise other Federal and State agencies, Tribes, and the public of our 
intentions, and to obtain suggestions and information on the scope of 
issues to consider in the planning process.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by October 23, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any 
of the following methods.
    E-mail: Sandy_Osborn@fws.gov. Include ``San Luis CCP'' in the 
subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attn: Ms. Sandy Osborn, (916) 414-6497.
    U.S. Mail: California and Nevada Region, Refuge Planning, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 2800 Cottage Way, W-1832, Sacramento, California 
    In-Person Drop off: You may drop off comments during regular 
business hours 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at San Luis 
NWR Complex Headquarters, 947 West Pacheco Blvd., Suite C, Los Banos, 

Leader, at (916) 414-6503.



    With this notice, we initiate our process for developing a CCP for 
San Luis and Merced NWRs and the Grasslands WMA in Merced County, CA. 
This notice complies with our CCP policy to: (1) Advise other Federal 
and State agencies, Tribes, and the public of our intention to conduct 
detailed planning on this refuge and (2) obtain suggestions and 
information on the scope of issues to consider in the environmental 
document and during development of the CCP.


The CCP Process

    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 and 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation. We will 
review and update the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with 
the Improvement Act.
    Each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System is established for 
specific purposes. We use these purposes as the foundation for 
developing and prioritizing the management goals and objectives for 
each refuge within the National Wildlife Refuge System mission, and to 
determine how the public can use each refuge. The planning process is a 
way for us and the public to evaluate management goals and objectives 
that will ensure the best possible approach to wildlife, plant, and 
habitat conservation, while providing for wildlife-dependent recreation 
opportunities that are compatible with each refuge's establishing 
purposes and the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
    Our CCP process provides participation opportunities for Tribal, 
State, and local governments; agencies; organizations; and the public. 
At this time we encourage input in the form of issues, concerns, ideas, 
and suggestions for the future management of San Luis and Merced NWRs 
and the Grasslands WMA.
    We will conduct the environmental review of this project in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); NEPA 
regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508); other appropriate Federal laws 
and regulations; and our policies and procedures for compliance with 
those laws and regulations.

San Luis and Merced NWRs and Grasslands WMA

    The San Luis and Merced NWRs and Grasslands WMA are in Merced 
County, California, adjacent to the communities of Los Banos and 
Merced. They are situated within the San Joaquin River watershed in the 
San Joaquin Valley.
    Collectively, these three units of the National Wildlife Refuge 
System contain one of the largest contiguous freshwater wetlands 
remaining in California, which provides important winter habitat for 
millions of migratory birds, as well as assemblages of other

[[Page 52064]]

native wetland- and grassland-dependent wildlife.
    The Merced NWR was established in 1951 and consists of 10,262 
acres. The San Luis NWR was established in 1967 and consists of 26,878 
acres. The Grasslands WMA was established in 1979 and contains more 
than 190 privately-owned parcels under Service conservation easements 
totaling approximately 90,000 acres, within an approved acquisition 
boundary of 230,000 acres.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

    Dated: August 18, 2008.
Richard F. Kearney,
Acting Regional Director, California and Nevada Region, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. E8-19488 Filed 9-5-08; 8:45 am]