[Federal Register: May 28, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 101)]
[Page 25577-25578]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2009-N0075; 40136-1265-0000-S3]

Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge, Terrebonne Parish, LA

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 and 
environmental assessment (Draft CCP/EA) for Mandalay National Wildlife 
Refuge (NWR) for public review and comment. In this Draft CCP/EA, we 
describe the alternative we propose to use to manage this refuge for 
the 15 years following approval of the final CCP.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by June 29, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Send comments, questions, and requests for information to: 
Mr. Paul Yakupzack, Refuge Manager, Mandalay NWR, 3599 Bayou Black 
Drive, Houma, LA 70360. The Draft CCP/EA is available on compact disk 
or in hard copy. The Draft CCP/EA may also be accessed and downloaded 
from the Service's Internet Site: http://southeast.fws.gov/planning/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Paul Yakupzack; telephone: 985/
853-1078; fax: 985/853-1079; e-mail: paul_yakupzack@fws.gov.



    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Mandalay NWR. We 
started this process through a notice in the Federal Register on March 
19, 2007 (72 FR 12811).


    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 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, 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

[[Page 25578]]

every 15 years in accordance with the Improvement Act.
    Mandalay NWR, approximately 5 miles west of Houma, Louisiana, was 
established on May 2, 1996, with the purchase of 4,416 acres under the 
authority of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929 and the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973. The refuge, predominantly freshwater 
marsh and cypress-tupelo swamp, provides excellent habitat for 
waterfowl, wading birds, and neotropical songbirds. Access is by boat, 
except for the headquarters building on Highway 182 (Bayou Black Drive) 
and a nearby nature trail. Mandalay NWR is administered as one of eight 
refuges of the Southeast Louisiana NWR Complex, headquartered in 
Lacombe, Louisiana.

CCP Alternatives, Including Our Proposed Alternative

    We developed three alternatives for managing the refuge and chose 
Alternative B as the proposed alternative. A full description is in the 
Draft CCP/EA. We summarize each alternative below.

Alternative A--No Action Alternative

    Under this alternative, no new actions would be taken to improve or 
enhance the refuge's current habitat, wildlife, and public use 
management programs. Species of Federal responsibility, such as 
threatened and endangered species and migratory birds, would continue 
to be monitored at present levels. Additional species monitoring would 
occur through the use of volunteers as they become available. Current 
programs of marsh management would be maintained. No progressive 
wetland restoration projects would be implemented. All public use 
programs of fishing, hunting, wildlife observation, wildlife 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation would 
continue at present levels and with current facilities.
    Acquisition of lands into the refuge would occur when funding is 
appropriated and willing sellers offer land that is quality waterfowl 
habitat. Staff would consist of a manager and a biologist for both 
Mandalay NWR and Bayou Teche NWR, along with supplementary support from 
the Southeast Louisiana NWR Complex staff when needed. The refuge 
headquarters would serve as an administrative office, with no 
enhancement of the grounds for public use.

Alternative B--Natural Resource Management (Proposed Alternative)

    Alternative B would emphasize management of the natural resources 
of Mandalay NWR based on maintaining and improving wetland habitats, 
monitoring targeted flora and fauna representative of the Terrebonne 
Basin, and providing quality public use programs and wildlife-dependent 
recreational activities. All species occurring on the refuge would be 
considered and certain targeted species would be managed and monitored, 
in addition to species of Federal responsibility. These species would 
be chosen based on the criteria that they would be indicators of the 
health of important habitat or species of concern.
    Wetland loss would be documented and, whenever possible, the lost 
wetlands would be restored. Public use programs would be improved by 
offering more facilities and wildlife observation areas. Public use 
facilities would undergo annual reviews for maintenance needs and 
safety concerns. Overall public use would be monitored to determine if 
any uses would negatively impact refuge resources. Education programs 
would be reviewed and improved to complement current refuge management 
and staffing. Archaeological resources would be surveyed.
    Land acquisition within the approved acquisition boundary would be 
based on importance of the habitat for target management species. The 
refuge headquarters would house a small administrative office. The 
staff would offer interpretation of refuge wildlife and habitats, as 
well as demonstrate habitat improvements for individual landowners. The 
main interpretive facilities would be housed at the Southeast Louisiana 
NWR Complex Headquarters in Lacombe, Louisiana.
    In general, under Alternative B, management decisions and actions 
would support wildlife species and habitats occurring on the refuge 
based on well-planned strategies and sound scientific judgment. Quality 
wildlife-dependent recreational uses and environmental education and 
interpretation programs would be offered to support and explain the 
natural resources of the refuge.

Alternative C--Maximized Public Use

    Alternative C would emphasize managing the natural resources of 
Mandalay NWR for maximized public use activities. The majority of staff 
time and efforts would support hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, 
wildlife photography, and environmental education and interpretation. 
Federal trust species and archaeological resources would be monitored 
as mandated.
    All refuge programs for conservation of wildlife and habitats, such 
as monitoring, surveying, and managing marsh, would support species and 
resources of importance for public use. More emphasis would be placed 
on interpreting and demonstrating these programs. Access, through means 
such as trails for walking and dredged areas for boat access, would be 
maximized, and we would provide public use facilities throughout the 
    Land acquisition within the approved acquisition boundary would be 
based on importance of the habitat for public use. The refuge 
headquarters would provide a small administrative office and a visitor 
center, which would be developed for public use activities.
    In general, Alternative C would focus on expanding public use 
activities to the fullest extent possible and conducting only mandated 
resource protection.

Next Step

    After the comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and 
address them.

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.

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

    Dated: April 21, 2009.
Jacquelyn B. Parrish,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. E9-12389 Filed 5-27-09; 8:45 am]