[Federal Register: September 3, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 171)]
[Page 51506-51507]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R3-R-2008-N00168; 30136-1265-0000-S3]

Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Schoolcraft County, MI

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: draft comprehensive conservation plan 
and environmental assessment; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of a draft comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and draft 
environmental assessment (EA) for Seney National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) 
for public review and comment. In this draft CCP/EA, we describe how we 
propose to manage the refuge for the next 15 years.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by October 8, 2008. An open house style meeting will be held during the 
comment period to receive comments and provide information on the draft 
plan. Special mailings, newspaper articles, Internet postings, and 
other media announcements will inform people of the meetings and 
opportunities for written comments.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any 
of the following methods. You may also drop off comments in person at 
Seney NWR.
     Agency Web site: View or download a copy of the document 
and comment at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/planning/Seney.
     E-mail: r3planning@fws.gov. Include ``Seney Draft CCP/EA'' 
in the subject line of the message.
     Fax: 906-586-3800.
     Mail: Refuge Manager, Seney National Wildlife Refuge, 1674 
Refuge Entrance Road, Seney, MI 49883-9501.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tracy Casselman, 906-586-9851 Ext 11.



    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Seney NWR, which 
was started with the notice of intent we published in the Federal 
Register on April 21, 2006 (71 FR 20722). For more about the initial 
process and the history of this refuge, see that notice. Seney NWR was 
established in 1935 by Executive Order under the Migratory Bird 
Conservation Act for the protection and production of migratory birds 
and other wildlife. The Refuge encompasses approximately 95,238 acres; 
of this area, 25,150 acres comprise the Seney Wilderness Area, in which 
is contained the Strangmoor Bog National Natural

[[Page 51507]]

Landmark. The Refuge is also responsible for the 33-acre Whitefish 
Point Unit, a former Coast Guard Station at Whitefish Point, in 
Chippewa County.

The CCP Process

    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), requires us to develop a comprehensive 
conservation plan for each national wildlife refuge. The purpose in 
developing a CCP is to provide refuge managers with a 15-year strategy 
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, plans identify wildlife-
dependent recreational opportunities available to the public, including 
opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation.

CCP Alternatives and Our Preferred Alternative

Priority Issues

    During the public scoping process, we, other governmental partners, 
and the public identified several priority issues, which include 
habitat management, invasive and exotic species, and demand for 
additional visitor services. To address these issues, we developed and 
evaluated the following alternatives during the planning process.

Alternative 1, Current Management Direction of Opportunistic 
Conservation, Restoration, and Preservation (No Action)

    The current management direction of Seney NWR would be maintained 
under this alternative. For NEPA purposes, this is referred to as the 
``No Action'' alternative, a misnomer as some changes will occur over 
the next 15 years. Management includes conservation, restoration and 
preservation but occurs opportunistically as budgets allow. Some 
programs, especially environmental education and outreach, would see 
improvements only if budgets increase in the future.

Alternative 2: Management Gradient of Conservation Emphasis (Unit 1), 
to Conservation-Restoration Emphasis (Unit 2), to Restoration-
Preservation Emphasis (Unit 3) and Wilderness Preservation (Unit 4) 
(Preferred Alternative)

    Alternative 2 would segment the Refuge into four general units and 
apply a management strategy to each unit. The units would follow a 
general gradient of management from low intensity (wilderness) to 
higher manipulation (managed impoundments and visitor use). Some high 
and low intensity management actions would occur in all units. Wildlife 
needs always receive priority when in conflict with visitor services.

Alternative 3: Management to Emphasize Historic Patterns and Processes 
through Restoration and Preservation (All Anthropogenic Habitats 
Removed in Units 2 and 3), and Wilderness Preservation (Unit 4)

    Alternative 3 would include the Refuge striving to manage its 
forests and water to allow unfettered succession to take place. Dynamic 
events such as windstorms, insect and tree disease outbreaks, flooding 
and wildfire would play a more substantial role in shaping habitats. 
Natural events may lead to limitation or closure of some exiting 
visitor use areas or services. However, crucial Refuge infrastructure 
such as roads and dikes would be protected from or repaired after 
destructive circumstances.

Public Meeting

    We will give the public an opportunity to provide comments at a 
public meeting. You may obtain the schedule from the addresses listed 
in this notice (see ADDRESSES). You may also submit comments anytime 
during the comment period.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should know 
that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you may 
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: July 22, 2008.
Charles M. Wooley,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fort 
Snelling, Minnesota.
[FR Doc. E8-20351 Filed 9-2-08; 8:45 am]