[Federal Register: December 17, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 243)]
[Page 76679-76680]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2008-N0190; 50133-1265-WPCP-S3]

Wapack National Wildlife Refuge, Hillsborough County, NH

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: final comprehensive conservation plan 
and finding of no significant impact for environmental assessment.


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

ADDRESSES: You may view or obtain copies of the final CCP and FONSI by 
any of the following methods. You may request a hard copy or CD-ROM. 
Agency Web Site: Download a copy of the document(s) at http://
    E-mail: fw5rw_prnwr@fws.gov. Please include ``Wapack NWR CCP'' in 
the subject line of the message.
    Mail: Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, 6 Plum Island 
Turnpike, Newburyport, MA 01950.
    In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Call 978-465-5753 to make an 
appointment during regular business hours at Parker River NWR 
headquarters. The final document is also available at the library 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Graham Taylor, Refuge Manager, Parker 
River NWR; phone number 978-465-5753; e-mail address: fw5rw_



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Wapack NWR. We 
started by publishing a notice of intent in the Federal Register (72 FR 
8197; February 23, 2007). For more about the process, see that notice. 
We announced the release of the draft CCP/EA to the public and 
requested their comments in a notice of availability in the Federal 
Register (73 FR 15769; March 25, 2008).
    Wapack NWR, at 1,625 acres, was established by donation in 1972 as 
the first national wildlife refuge in New Hampshire. Its purpose is for 
migratory birds. It is administered by the staff of the Parker River 
NWR, headquartered in Newburyport, Massachusetts. The refuge 
encompasses the 2,278-foot North Pack Monadnock Mountain in the towns 
of Greenfield and Temple, New Hampshire. The terms of the deed of 
donation require the Service to manage the refuge in a ``wilderness-
like'' setting for wildlife. Specific deed restrictions prohibit 
motorized vehicles, hunting and fishing, trapping, or cutting trees.
    Mature northern hardwood-mixed and spruce-fir forest characterizes 
the refuge. It provides nesting habitat for many migratory songbirds 
such as the black-capped chickadee, blackburnian warbler, black-
throated blue warbler, hermit thrush, myrtle warbler, ovenbird, and 
red-eyed vireo. The refuge also supports a wide variety of other native 
wildlife, including deer, bear, coyote, fisher, fox, mink and weasel.
    Visitors engage in wildlife observation and photography on the 
refuge. It is especially popular for viewing the fall migration of 
hawks. A 4-mile segment of the 21-mile Wapack Trail traverses the 
refuge, and rewards hikers with a beautiful view of the surrounding 
mountains. Three other trails also offer quality opportunities for 
viewing and photographing wildlife.
    We are announcing our decision and the availability of the FONSI 
and final CCP for Wapack NWR in accordance with the requirements of the 
National Environmental Policy Act (40 CFR 1506.6(b)). We completed a 
thorough analysis of effects on the human environment, which we 
included in the draft CCP/EA.
    The final CCP will guide us in managing and administering Wapack 
NWR for the next 15 years. Alternative B, which we described in the 
draft CCP/EA as the Service-preferred alternative, is the foundation 
for the final CCP.


    The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Improvement Act), which amends 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

[[Page 76680]]

provide refuge managers with a 15-year plan for achieving refuge 
purposes and contributing to the mission of the National Wildlife 
Refuge System, in a manner consistent with the sound principles of fish 
and wildlife management, conservation science, legal mandates, and our 
policies. In addition to outlining broad management direction on 
conserving wildlife and their habitats, CCPs identify opportunities for 
wildlife-dependent recreation available to the public, including 
hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation. We will review and update 
each CCP at least every 15 years, in accordance with the Improvement 

CCP Alternatives, Including Alternative B, the Selected Alternative

    Our draft CCP/EA (73 FR 15769) identified and addressed several 
issues in its chapter 1, ``The Purpose of and Need for Action.'' In 
that document, we developed two alternatives to respond to those 
issues. Alternative A represented current management. Alternative B was 
identified as the Service-preferred alternative for several reasons. It 
included an array of management actions that, in our professional 
judgment, worked best toward achieving the purpose of the refuge, our 
vision and goals for those lands, and goals in State and regional 
conservation plans. In our opinion, alternative B most effectively 
addressed the key issues.
    The planning team recommended alternative B to the Regional 
Director as the better alternative for managing this refuge over the 
next 15 years. He selected it for the final CCP.
    Implementing the CCP will improve our knowledge of refuge resources 
and start the development of a baseline biological database. We plan to 
inventory populations of plants and wildlife on the refuge in 
partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. That project will also help 
us identify and monitor threats to the integrity of refuge habitats.
    Other projects in the CCP will enhance visitor programs by 
expanding our partnerships with other Federal agencies, State agencies, 
town departments, local conservation organizations, and individuals. 
Partners will assist us in maintaining trails, developing and 
maintaining a new trailhead parking area, and increasing our presence 
and visibility on the refuge and in the local community. One of our 
goals is to better communicate refuge opportunities, visitor and 
contact information, and regulations.
    We will allow only compatible activities that are consistent with a 
``wilderness-like'' setting and adhere to other deed restrictions. The 
new activities we will allow include dog-walking only on leash, 
recreational berry-picking, and the annual Wapack Trail Run, under the 
stipulations of our determination of its compatibility.
    We do not propose to expand the refuge. However, we will offer our 
support in identifying unprotected lands of high wildlife value to 
partners engaged in other regional land conservation and protection. We 
also will offer our technical assistance in managing those lands.


    We solicited comments on the draft CCP/EA for Wapack NWR from March 
25, 2008 to May 1, 2008 (73 FR 15769). We held a public meeting in 
Peterborough, New Hampshire, on April 17, 2008. We evaluated all 
comments received during the public comment period, and included our 
responses to those comments in appendix F of the final CCP.

Selected Alternative

    The Regional Director selected alternative B for implementation. 
The following key changes were made between draft and final plans.
     We found compatible the annual Wapack Trail Race, with 
certain stipulations identified in its compatibility determination 
(refer to CCP appendix A).
     The staff of Parker River NWR in Newburyport, 
Massachusetts, now administers the unstaffed Wapack NWR; it is no 
longer administered from Great Bay NWR.

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to the methods in ADDRESSES above, you can view or 
obtain documents at the Peterborough, New Hampshire, Town Library, at 2 
Concord Street, Peterborough, New Hampshire, during regular library 

    Dated: November 19, 2008.
Thomas J. Healy,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hadley, MA 
[FR Doc. E8-29436 Filed 12-16-08; 8:45 am]