[Federal Register: December 31, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 251)]
[Page 80421-80423]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2008-N0245; 40136-1265-0000-S3]

Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, Hyde County, NC

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the 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 Mattamuskeet 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: Mr. Bruce 
Freske, Refuge Manager, Mattamuskeet NWR, 38 Mattamuskeet Road, Swan 
Quarter, NC 27885. The CCP may also be accessed and downloaded from the 
Service's Internet site: http://southeast.fws.gov/planning.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Bruce Freske, Refuge Manager, 
Mattamuskeet NWR; Telephone: 252/926-4021; fax: 252/926-1743; e-mail: 



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Mattamuskeet NWR. 
We started this process through a notice in the Federal Register on 
February 7, 2001 (66 FR 9353). For more about the process, see that 
    Mattamuskeet NWR was established in 1934, and conserves 50,180 
acres of habitats around Lake Mattamuskeet, including the lake itself. 
At 40,000 acres, Lake Mattamuskeet is North Carolina's largest natural 
lake. The refuge supports significant wintering populations of ducks, 
Canada geese, snow geese, and tundra swans. Concentrations of bald 
eagles and other raptors, wading birds, and shorebirds occur 
seasonally. Significant fishery resources including largemouth bass, 
sunfish (bream), white perch, crappie, alewives (herring), and blue 
crabs are associated with Lake Mattamuskeet and canals. Habitats 
consist of open water (40,000 acres), freshwater marsh (3,640 acres), 
forested wetlands (3,503 acres), managed wetlands or impoundments 
(2,600 acres), croplands (400 acres), and forested uplands/
administrative lands (37 acres).
    Popular recreation uses at Mattamuskeet NWR include hunting, sport 
fishing, and wildlife observation and photography. Quota hunting for 
white-tailed deer and waterfowl is allowed on portions of the refuge. 
The Service selects hunters through a random drawing of applicants for 
deer and resident goose hunting. The State of North Carolina receives 
application requests for waterfowl hunting on the refuge through their 
special hunts program. Hunting for white-tailed deer and resident 
Canada geese is primarily conducted to control population levels.
    Mattamuskeet NWR receives 18,000 anglers annually. Most people fish 
along canal banks, bridges, or the Highway 94 Causeway. Boaters mostly 
use the lake in the spring and fall when water depths in the shallow 
lake are generally the highest. Boat fishermen generally seek 
largemouth and striped bass, while bank fishermen mostly seek catfish, 
white perch, and crappie. Crappie fishing is especially popular in the 
spring when spawning fish move into the deeper canals attached to the 
    During the fall and winter, concentrations of Canada geese, tundra 
swans, and ducks of many species delight both wildlife observers and 
photographers. The formerly threatened bald eagle may also be observed 
during the fall, winter, and early spring. During the summer months, 
many species of songbirds and marsh birds are a common sight. 
Occasionally, broods of

[[Page 80422]]

black and wood ducks can be observed in the canals and around the 
lake's edge. Osprey, wood duck, and bald eagle nests are occasionally 
visible. Year-round residents include the white-tailed deer, marsh and 
cottontail rabbits, gray squirrels, and many other mammals, as well as 
amphibians and reptiles. Species less observed are the bobcat and river 
otter. The black bear population in northeastern North Carolina is one 
of the largest on the east coast and lucky visitors to the refuge 
occasionally glimpse a wild bear.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the final CCP and 
FONSI for Mattamuskeet 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 Mattamuskeet 
NWR for the next 15 years. Alternative B, as we described, is the 
foundation for the CCP.
    The compatibility determinations for (1) Animal control; (2) 
bicycling, jogging, walking, walking dogs, horseback riding; (3) 
boating--power boats; (4) boating--non-motorized; (5) dredge or fill; 
(6) environmental education and interpretation; (7) farming; (8) 
fishing--recreational and tournament; (9) fishing--guided; (10) 
hunting--big game; (11) hunting--waterfowl; (12) photography; (13) 
photography--commercial; (14) small public gatherings; (15) research; 
(16) tree harvest--firewood--other; and (17) wildlife observation--
guiding or outfitting, are also available in the 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 150 copies of the Draft CCP/EA were made available 
for a 30-day public review period as announced in the Federal Register 
on July 18, 2008 (73 FR 41371). Nineteen written comments were received 
from private citizens, four North Carolina state agencies, and the Hyde 
County Chamber of Commerce. Members of the public were broadly 
supportive of the proposed plan, although several commented that they 
would have preferred Alternative C, which would have expanded 
management, programs, visitor services, and public use even more than 
the alternative selected by the Service.
    The four state agencies that commented were the North Carolina 
Office of Geospatial and Technology Management; Aquifer Protection 
Section, Washington Regional Office, North Carolina Department of 
Environment and Natural Resources; North Carolina Department of 
Environment and Natural Resources; and North Carolina Division of 
Coastal Management. Representatives of the North Carolina Wildlife 
Resources Commission participated in preparing the CCP but did not 
provide written comments on the Draft CCP/EA.

Selected Alternative

    After considering the comments we received, we have selected 
Alternative B for implementation. This choice is reflected in the CCP. 
While each of the alternatives offered benefits for wildlife, habitat, 
and public use, Alternative B was more ambitious than Alternative A and 
more feasible and realistic than Alternative C.
    Alternative B provides an effective management action to meet the 
purposes of Mattamuskeet NWR by optimizing habitat management and 
visitor services. This long-term management plan enhances or slightly 
expands various aspects of current management. For wintering waterfowl, 
objectives for tundra swan and northern pintail are the same, but the 
Canada goose objective is 5,000 higher and the duck objective is 40,000 
to 60,000 higher than current management. The CCP replicates most 
elements and expands upon other aspects of current fisheries 
    The CCP also expands upon current management of raptors, passerine 
birds, shorebirds, marsh and wading birds, mammals, and reptiles and 
amphibians. It re-initiates nest counts of ospreys, ground surveys for 
marsh and wading birds, and implements passerine point counts. 
Furthermore, the refuge will evaluate alternative management strategies 
for moist-soil units as to their benefit for spring and fall migration 
of shorebirds.
    The CCP expands on current management's habitat objectives. It 
investigates the desirability and feasibility of restoring Salyer's 
Ridge pinewoods and considers new management options for the 
Conservation Reserve Program cropland. The CCP expands resource 
protection by increasing control of invasive plant and animal species 
such as common reed, alligatorweed, and nutria. The refuge will also 
prepare and begin to implement a Cultural Resources Management Plan. To 
enhance law enforcement, the refuge will add one full-time law 
enforcement officer dedicated solely to Mattamuskeet NWR.
    To better support public use, the refuge will prepare and implement 
a Visitor Services' Plan. Existing hunts will continue and the refuge 
will explore how to increase youth hunting opportunities for deer and 
waterfowl and cooperate with North Carolina Wildlife Resources 
Commission to conduct activities promoting hunter recruitment and 
retention. Fishing opportunities will increase by adding one boat ramp 
to support an additional 5,000 angler visits annually. Nature Week will 
be re-instituted and the refuge will begin to host ten K-12 school 
programs annually. Interpretation opportunities will be expanded by 
adding kiosks, annually revised brochures, and interpretive signage 
along the wildlife drive and New Holland boardwalk trail. Opening and 
staffing the visitor contact station with volunteer(s) on weekends will 
also promote further interpretation. The refuge will reinstall an 8-
mile canoe and kayak loop trail and construct one additional photo-
blind. As under current management, the refuge will cooperate with 
partners to encourage commercial ecotours. Refuge management will also 
increase outreach.

    Authority: This notice is published under the authority of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, Public Law 

[[Page 80423]]

    Dated: September 17, 2008.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.

    Editorial Note: This document was received in the Office of the 
Federal Register on December 24, 2008.
 [FR Doc. E8-31120 Filed 12-30-08; 8:45 am]