[Federal Register: June 15, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 113)]
[Page 28271-28273]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-R-2009-N0070; 80230-1265-0000-53]

Modoc National Wildlife Refuge, Modoc County, CA

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 
environmental assessment (EA) for Modoc National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) 
for public review and comment. In these documents, we describe 
alternatives, including our preferred alternative, to manage this 
refuge for the 15 years following approval of the final CCP. Draft 
compatibility determinations for several public uses are also available 
for review and public comment in the Draft CCP/EA.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by July 30, 2009. We will announce upcoming public meeting in local 
news media.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments or requests for copies or more 
information by any of the following methods. You may request hard 
copies or a CD-ROM of the documents.
    E-mail: Jackie_Ferrier@fws.gov. Include ``Modoc NWR Draft CCP and 
EA'' in the subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attn: Jackie Ferrier, Refuge Planner, (530) 934-7814.
    U.S. Mail: Sacramento NWR Complex, 752 County Road 99W, Willows, CA 
    In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call (530) 233-3572 to make 
an appointment (necessary for view/pickup only) during regular business 
hours at

[[Page 28272]]

the Modoc NWR, at 5364 County Road 115, Alturas, CA 96101 during 
business hours. For more information on locations for viewing or 
obtaining documents, see ``Public Availability of Documents'' under 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Clay, Project Leader at Modoc 
NWR, (530) 233-3572 (telephone) or Jackie Ferrier, Refuge Planner at 
Sacramento NWR Complex at (530) 934-2801 (telephone).



    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Modoc NWR. We 
started this process through a notice in the Federal Register (72 FR 
44850; August 9, 2007).
    The 7,021 acre Modoc National Wildlife Refuge is located southeast 
of Alturas, California. The Refuge was established in 1960 pursuant to 
the Migratory Bird Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 715d) and the Refuge 
Recreation Act (16 U.S.C. 460k-460 K.4). Lands within the Refuge have 
been set aside for use as an inviolate sanctuary, and other management 
purposes, for migratory birds, for incidental fish and wildlife-
oriented recreational development, for the protection of natural 
resources, and for the conservation of endangered species or threatened 
    Located near the confluence of the north and south forks of the Pit 
River, the Refuge conserves, protects, and manages a mosaic of 
freshwater lakes and ponds, seasonal wetlands, irrigated meadows, 
grasslands, and sagebrush/juniper upland habitats. These habitats 
provide important resting, feeding, and nesting areas for ducks, geese, 
and other migratory birds including the greater sandhill crane.


The CCP Process

    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 and 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation. We will 
review and update the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with 
the Improvement Act.

Public Outreach

    We started the CCP for Modoc NWR in August 2007. At that time and 
throughout the process, public comments were requested, considered, and 
incorporated in numerous ways. Public outreach has included a public 
scoping meeting, planning updates, a CCP Web page, and Federal Register 
notices. Comments we received cover topics such as wildlife, habitat, 
refuge management, invasive species management, partnerships, and 
visitor services. We have considered and evaluated all of these 
comments, with many incorporated into the various alternatives 
addressed in the draft CCP and the EA.

CCP Alternatives We Are Considering

    During the public scoping process with which we started work on 
this draft CCP, we, other governmental partners, Tribes, and the public 
raised several issues. Our draft CCP addresses them. A full description 
of each alternative is in the EA. To address these issues, we developed 
and evaluated the following alternatives, summarized below.
    The Draft EA/CCP presents an evaluation of the environmental 
effects of four alternatives for managing the Modoc Refuge for the next 
15 years. The Service proposes to implement Alternative C, as described 
in the EA. Alternative C best achieves the Refuge's purposes, vision, 
and goals; contributes to the Refuge System mission; addresses the 
significant issues and relevant mandates; and is consistent with 
principles of sound fish and wildlife management. This alternative is 
described in more detail in the CCP.
    There are many features of proposed Refuge management that are 
common to all four alternatives. Features common to all alternatives 
include invasive species management, habitat management and 
restoration, implementation of a hunting and fishing program, and 
providing wildlife observation, photography, environmental education, 
and interpretation opportunities. There are also many features of each 
alternative that are distinct.
    Alternative A, the no action alternative, assumes no change from 
current management programs and is considered the baseline to compare 
other alternatives against. Under Alternative A, the primary management 
focus of the Refuge would continue to be providing habitat for 
migrating and nesting migratory and resident birds with an emphasis on 
migratory birds by restoring and maintaining wetland, riparian, and 
grassland habitats. The Refuge would continue to offer wildlife-
dependent recreation including wildlife observation, photography, 
environmental education, interpretative programs, fishing and hunting, 
with emphasis on youth and disabled hunters.
    Under Alternative B, the Refuge would emphasize management for 
biological resources. Biological opportunities would be maximized to 
allow optimum wildlife and habitat management throughout the majority 
of the Refuge. The Refuges would continue its current focus of 
providing migratory and nesting habitat for migratory birds. Habitat 
and invasive species management programs would be expanded. 
Environmental education, interpretation, wildlife observation, wildlife 
photography, fishing, and hunting, programs would be reduced.
    Under Alternative C, the Refuge would achieve an optimal balance of 
biological resource objectives and visitor services opportunities. 
Habitat management and associated biological resource monitoring would 
be improved. Visitor service opportunities would focus on quality 
wildlife-dependant recreation distributed throughout the Refuge. In 
addition, environmental education, interpretation, wildlife 
observation, photography, fishing, and hunting programs would be 
expanded beyond Alternative A.
    Under Alternative D, the Refuge would emphasize management for 
visitor services. Wildlife-dependant recreational opportunities would 
be expanded on the Refuge. Opportunities for the six priority public 
uses: hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, 
environmental education, and interpretation, would be expanded beyond 
Alternatives A, B, and C.

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to any methods in ADDRESSES, you can view or obtain 
documents at the following locations:
     Our Web site: http://www.fws.gov/modoc.
     Public Libraries: Modoc County Library 212 West Third 
Street Alturas, CA 96101, Cedarville Branch Library 460 Main Street, 
Cedarville, CA 96104, Conservation Library, USFWS-NCTC,

[[Page 28273]]

698 Conservation Way, Shepherdstown, WV 25443 during regular library 

Next Steps

    After this comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and 
address them in the form of a final CCP.

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.

    Dated: June 2, 2009.
Margaret T. Kolar,
Acting Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. E9-13303 Filed 6-12-09; 8:45 am]