[Federal Register: November 21, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 226)]
[Page 70668]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 70668]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2008-N0267; 40136-1265-0000-S3]

Santee National Wildlife Refuge, Clarendon County, SC

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 Santee 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: Santee NWR, 
2125 Fort Watson Road, Summerton, SC 29148. The plan may also be 
accessed and downloaded from the Service's Web site: http://

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Marc Epstein, Refuge Manager, 
Santee National Wildlife Refuge; Telephone: 803/478-2217; fax: 803/478-
2314; e-mail: marc_epstein@fws.gov.



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Santee NWR. We 
started this process through a notice in the Federal Register on 
January 3, 2007 (72 FR 143). For more about the process, see that 
    The primary purpose of this 15,000-acre refuge, which was 
established in 1942, is to alleviate the loss of natural waterfowl and 
other wildlife habitat caused by the construction of hydro-electric 
power and navigational projects on the Santee and Cooper Rivers. The 
refuge lies within the Atlantic Coastal Plain and consists of mixed 
hardwoods, mixed pine hardwoods, pine plantations, marsh, croplands, 
old fields, ponds, impoundments, and open water.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the final CCP and 
FONSI for Santee 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 Santee 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) upland game hunting; (2) 
fishing/boating; (3) wildlife observation and photography; (4) 
environmental education and interpretation; (5) bicycling; (6) 
research; (7) exotic and nuisance wildlife control; (8) forest 
management--commercial timber harvest; and (9) 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 120 copies of the Draft CCP/EA were made available 
for a 30-day public review period as announced in the Federal Register 
on June 30, 2008 (73 FR 36888). Written comments were received from 
local citizens and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Selected Alternative

    After considering the comments we received, we have selected 
Alternative C for implementation. The primary focus under Alternative C 
will be to increase overall wildlife and habitat diversity. Although 
waterfowl will remain a focus of management, wetland habitat 
manipulations will also consider the needs of multiple species, such as 
marsh and wading birds. Management of upland forests and fields for 
neotropical migratory birds will be more actively managed than 
previously. Landscape level consideration of habitat management will 
include a diversity of open fields, upland and wetland forests, and 
additional managed wetlands. Multiple species consideration will 
include species and habitats identified by the South Atlantic Migratory 
Bird Initiative and the State's Strategic Conservation Plan.
    This alternative will expand the monitoring efforts to provide 
additional, active efforts to monitor migratory neotropical and 
breeding songbirds, and other resident species. Monitoring efforts will 
be increased with the assistance of additional staff, trained 
volunteers, and academic research. A greater effort will be made to 
recruit academic researchers to the refuge to study and monitor refuge 
    Wildlife-dependent uses of the refuge will continue. Hunting and 
fishing will continue to be allowed. However, hunting will be managed 
with a greater focus to achieve biological needs of the refuge, such as 
deer population management. Education and interpretation will continue, 
but with additional education and outreach efforts aimed at the 
importance of landscape ecology and diversity. A much broader effort 
will be made with outreach to nearby developing urban communities and a 
growing human population.
    The refuge will be staffed at current levels plus the addition of 
two biological technicians to carry out the increased habitat 
management and monitoring needs. Greater emphasis will be placed on 
recruiting and training volunteers. Refuge biological programs will 
actively seek funding and researchers to study primarily management-
oriented research needs. Refuge staff will place greater emphasis on 
developing and maintaining active partnerships, including seeking 
grants to assist the refuge in reaching primary objectives.
    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 

    Dated: September 30, 2008.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
 [FR Doc. E8-27709 Filed 11-20-08; 8:45 am]